Promoter Lou DiBella and manager/promoter Shelly Finkel lead a seven-member Class of 2015 into the Connecticut Boxing Hall of Fame (CBHOF). New members will be inducted at the 11TH annual CBHOF Gala Induction Dinner on Friday night, November 13 in the Uncas Ballroom at Mohegan Sun.
The new CBHOF inductees also include former boxing commissioner Peter Timothy and, posthumously, boxers Carey Mace and George Russo, boxing writer Mort Sharnik and boxing advocate Arnie Bayer.
“We at the Connecticut Boxing Hall of Fame are very excited to announce this year’s class of inductees,” new CBHOF president John Laudati said. “We have a great mix of internationally recognized boxing legends and a wonderful and most deserving group of Connecticut’s boxing royalty. Personally, I am so pleased to introduce this class in my first year as president of this incredible organization. I look forward to seeing all our Connecticut boxing fans at Mohegan Sun on November 13th.”
Based in New York City, DiBella is the former Head of Boxing for HBO, creating the highly successful “Boxing After Dark” series. His promotional company, DiBella Entertainment, has promoted countless boxing events at Mohegan Sun Arena and Foxwoods Resort Casino during the past two decades. DiBella also owned the Connecticut Defenders minor league baseball team that was based in Norwich. His top fighters have included Sergio Martinez, Bernard Hopkins, Paulie Malignaggi, Jermain Taylor, CBHOF inductee “Irish” Micky Ward, and Andre Berto among the more notables. A Harvard Law School graduate, DiBella is also a successful movie producer.
Finkel, also from New York City, is an International Boxing Hall of Fame inductee who was a fixture at Connecticut fights for many years as either a promoter or manager. He is also a successful manager in the music industry. In the early 1990s, Finkel was arguably the most powerful manager in boxing. His most celebrated clients included Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, Manny Pacquiao, Pernell Whitaker, Meldrick Taylor and Wladimir Klitschko.
Timothy was boxing commissioner of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal National Commission at Foxwoods from 1995 to 2009. He was mentored by the late John Burns, who was the founder of the CBHOF of which he is also an inductee. During his tenure at Foxwoods, Timothy regulated hundreds of pro events, including 90 title fight. Highlights of his reign included CBHOF inductee John Ruiz-Evander Holyfield III for the WBA world heavyweight championship and, perhaps, the greatest fight in Foxwoods history, the IBF world cruiserweight title fight between James Toney and Vassily Jirov. Other stars who fought at Foxwoods when Timothy was in charge include Roy Jones, Jr., Diego Corrales, Shane Mosley and Acelino Freitas, along with CBHOF inductees Dana Rosenblatt, Peter Manfredo, Jr. and U.S. Olympian Lawrence Clay-Bey.
Mace (72-18-2), born in Hartford, started fighting professionally in the late 1940s. His most notable victory came in 1950, stopping former world champion Joe Giardello. Mace was a member of CBHOF charter member Willie Pep’s stable and was ranked at one point as high as No. 8 welterweight in the world. Mace, whose last bout was a loss to CBHOF member Gaspar Ortega in 1962, lived in Manchester when he passed away at the age of 73 in 2003.
Russo had 85 pro fights between 1922 and 1934. He moved to Bridgeport when he was six and he eventually became a local legend in boxing, operating gyms like Red Man’s Hall, Acorn Club and East Washington Avenue. In 1992, he brought boxing back after a decade-long absence to the Old PAL building in Bridgeport. Russo also was recognized as the “Johnny Duke of Southern Connecticut.”
Born in New Haven, the late Sharnick lived nearly all his life in Norwalk, before returning to Florida, where he was elected to the Florida Boxing Hall of Fame in 2012, largely for founding the Smart Boxer Institute. Sharnik was a boxing writer for 23 years at Sports Illustrated, highlighted by his coverage of Cassius Clay-Sonny Liston I, quoted wildly for saying, “Liston has fists like cannonballs.” He moved on to become the chief for a consultant at CBS for nine years and was the chief advisor and the lone true believer in George Foreman’s comeback bid eventually leading to another world heavyweight title. Sharnick also was an advisor for CBHOF member and two-time world champion Marlon Starling, persuading the future world champion to add Eddie Futch as his head trainer. Futch’s assistant, CBHOF member Freddie Roach, would eventually train Starling when he became world welterweight champion.
Bayer was widely respected as a true advocate of boxing, always quick to lend a helping hand, as well as opening wallet to help support boxing gyms in cities like CBHOF inductee Johnny Duke’s Boys Club Gym in Bellevue Square, Hartford.
Tickets for the CBHOF 11th annual Gala Induction Dinner, reasonably priced at $90.00, are on sale now by calling Kim Baker at Mohegan Sun (1.860.862.7377) or Sherman Cain at the Manchester Journal Inquirer (1.800.237.3606 X321). Doors open at 5:30 p.m. ET, cocktails at 6 p.m. ET, followed by dinner.