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Editor in Chief:

Alex Menendez

Executive Editor:

Steve Kidd

Associate Editors:

Donald Montague Don Juan Moore Tara Menendez

Photographers: Alex Menendez Steve Kidd Donald Montague John Czajkowski Steve Johnson Romeo Guzman Dion Menendez Don Juan Moore Reinhold Matay Gray Quetti David Evertsen Bobby Pierre Scott A. Miller Writers:

Steve Kidd Alex Menendez Andy Nicol Linnea Edmeier J.C. Carnahan

Editorial and Business Offices: Orlando Sports Mag 1337 Quailey Street Orlando, Florida 32804 Website: www.orlandosportsmag.com Story ideas and photo submissions are always welcome. Please contact us for advertising rates and distribution information. Email: Alex@OrlandoSportsMag.com All images and stories are copyright Orlando Sports Mag. 2




Le’gone By J.C. Carnahan If you’ve ever moved away from home you know how hard it is to move back.

down and getting away from the comforts of all he’s ever know in Ohio.

Even the most nostalgic of us knows this to be true. Each day away from the nest drives us further from the people we once were and ever closer to the possibilities of new adventures in the future.

The maturation process he experienced while in Miami has paved the way for his being able to forgive Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert for how he handled James’ departure, while also humbling him enough to admit to his own faults.

Of course a salary of $42.1-million over two years could make anyone reconsider, such as is the case of NBA all-star forward LeBron James, who decided in July to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers after four successful years with the Miami Heat. You know the story by now: Akron native returns home to Northeast Ohio to help struggling sports town claim its first major championship since 1964. The thing is, even if James is unable to deliver a title to the area before retiring with the Cavs (if that should happen) he’ll have already done enough to make up for the way he publicly humiliated the region by announcing The Decision on national television.

Maybe growing old and wise isn’t such a tough thing to do after all, as long as you embrace the journey along the way. The greatest basketball player of this generation doesn’t need to win another NBA championship on the court to validate his accomplishments as an athlete at the highest level of his craft. Being the people’s champion back home will resonate much more, long after he’s gone.

That James chose to return to a rusted and decrepit area overcome with crime, unemployment, and few options to combat either, is a message of hope for people still calling Northeast Ohio home. It’s as if Cleveland fans have already won. With James on the court with the Cavs anything is possible as they’ll always be in contention, much more so than the lowly Browns or average Indians. And the healing can finally begin for fans who still felt spurned by what they perceived to be a player’s betrayal in an era where athletes continue to jump from team to team no matter where they were born or raised. Whoever James is as a person, father or player, today was made possible by way of letting his guard


Photos: Alex Menendez


Photos: Alex Menendez 8


Driving the Petty No. 43

Cuban driver Aric Almirola nabs first career win in rain-shortened Daytona Race. DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The rain and the wrecks were fast and furions at the Daytona International Speedway for the 56th running of the Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola. When the carnage from two major contender-claiming incidents was over, it was Aric Almirola who not only survived but claimed his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory and took the giant step of punching his ticket into the 2014 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Running the iconic No. 43 of Richard Petty fame, with the U.S. Air Force on the hood for July 4 weekend, Almirola’s win came on the 30th anniversary of team owner Richard Petty’s 200th Cup victory. “I’m more concerned with getting my first win than what happened 30 years ago,” admitted Almirola during the race’s third red-flag delay for a thunderstorm that eventually halted the race with 48 scheduled laps remaining. Not that Almirola, who edged Brian Vickers and Kurt Busch for the win, had no sense of history or what his triumph might mean to Richard Petty Motorsports. “Man, I just took the 43 car to victory at Daytona,” said Almirola, standing under an umbrella in Victory Lane. “This is amazing!” “I grew up two hours away from here in Tampa and grew up in those stands, watching Daytona 500s and Firecracker 400s -- and grew up dreaming about what it would be like to win here.”  Richard Petty wasn’t at Daytona on Sunday but reveled in the victory via phone. He had left mid-race due to the bad weather that had been on the East Coast the entire weekend. “Today is the future,” Petty said. “To be able to win a race down there, win it for the Air Force on the Fourth of July, the whole thing is great. We’ve had so many disappointments – and it rained on us today. But it rained on us at the right time. “You know, I don’t ever give up on anything. Looking back on the history of Petty Enterprises – the turmoil we’ve been through the last seven or eight years ... I’ve always said is that if I keep working on it long enough,


you’re going to overcome all of these things. One win doesn’t get you over the hump but it makes it easier to go on from here.” With the No. 43’s first victory at Daytona since 1984 and first Cup win at any track since John Andretti’s victory at Martinsville Speedway in 1999, Almirola can now dream about what it will be like to pilot the No. 43 in the Chase.  “Yes, and deservedly so for this race team,” he said. “Now we’re going to be a part of that, to have the opportunity, not only to take (our sponsors) to Victory Lane, but to have that added exposure of the Chase. It is really cool to give back to those people who took a chance on me and took a chance on our race team.” 

“I’m more concerned with getting my first win than what happened 30 years ago” The victory was the third consecutively for Ford, which last won three in a row in 2005 with victories by Greg Biffle (2) and Carl Edwards. Biffle, who led the race briefly but finished 29th, predicted chaos when he watched drivers such as David Gilliland, Landon Cassill and Reed Sorenson, not among the points leaders, battling at the front of the field early on. Biffle called it some of the craziest racing he’d ever seen. But he never saw the massive incident on Lap 98 brewing.  “The beginning of (the race) was crazy when the 40 and 36 and 38 were dicing for the lead,” he said.  “Then it calmed down and we had a green-flag pit cycle. (The 26car crash) was just a chain reaction. This wasn’t (about craziness) at all. This was pretty calm.” 



Sunday’s first big-time wreck occurred on Lap 20, just prior to NASCAR’s scheduled competition caution. Sixteen cars were involved, including the top six drivers in the point standings. Near the front of the field, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. got a bit loose. Jeff Gordon, looking to avoid him, tapped Tony Stewart and the chaos was on. Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards, Kyle Larson and AJ Allmendinger joined Stenhouse and Stewart in the garage with substantial damage.  “A half-lap from getting a competition caution and Stenhouse is going to be a hero,” said Stewart, among the perennial contenders to note of some wild racing at the front of the pack. “I guess Ricky thought it paid something to get to Lap 20. I don’t know what happened to him, but he took out a bunch of good cars right there.”  Stenhouse deflected the criticism. “It just got loose,” Stenhouse said. “We had a full head of steam. The 24 (Gordon) was pushing me pretty good there and the 33 (Bobby Labonte) pulled out ahead of us and blocked. I checked up a little and all of a sudden we got hit in the left rear.” The second incident also began near the front of the pack when Biffle got into the back of the weekend’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race winner Kasey Kahne. That contact sent Kahne and Joey Logano spinning in action that collected a total of 26 cars. 


The chaos left Almirola on the lead with Kurt Busch and Brian Vickers in pursuit. It also left Kyle Busch upside down in his Joe Gibbs Toyota. “I knew it was going to be big as far up (in the field) as I was,” Kahne said. “I was getting hit from behind and I just started spinning. It’s kind of scary. I think my car got airborne. I have never had that happen before and it’s a helpless feeling when you’re getting hit as you are in the air. I was more concerned when I got out and saw Kyle on his roof. I wasn’t sure why he wasn’t getting out with his car being upside down on the track.”  Kyle Busch was able to manage a bit of levity even after his car was plowed into by Cole Whitt, toppling it onto its roof.  “Just hanging out,” Busch radioed, indicating he was OK. “It felt like a slow carnival ride. I guess that’s fitting for 4th of July weekend but not here in Daytona. I just got T-boned there at the end and it just kind of toppled me over.”  Danica Patrick, a fan favorite and constant sparring partner with Richard Petty, finished in the eighth position after working her way up to fourth at one point. Driving the Florida Lottery car for the second year in a row, she seemed to have luck on her side at Daytona. Almirola will now be the “Wildcard” driver to position himself for making the Chase for the NASCAR Championship this year.






Former Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez runs onto the field in Atlanta for the very last time. The future Hall of Famer and fan favorite has called it quits and will surely be missed by all, but watch for him in the broadcast booth in the near future. Photo: Don Juan Moore 20



Jaguars welcome Bortles

he Jaguars owner Shad Khan will boast this year

a glimpse of what may lie ahead this year. Its hard to

about having the largest outdoor television screen on

anticipate a great season this year, but management

the planet, as well as the addition of new swimming

seems to be trying to upgrade this team, incrimentally.

pools at EverBank Field. That is either good news or bad news, depending on how much the team has improved, and how well they can swim. Jacksonville was 4-12 last year and outscored by a total of 202 points. They weren’t above average in any categories and the teams that they did beat were mediocre at best. However, this year, they’ve added some good players in free agency and the draft, including UCF’s own superstar and standout quarterback Blake Bortles with the #3 pick in the draft. This move should draw larger crowds to the stadium this year. Hopefully, Bortles will have a chance to appear in

Is the roster better, worse or about the same?: The biggest losses happened during last season, Monroe was traded, Blackmon was suspended and the end of Maurice Jones-Drew was more sentimental than a big on-field loss. The free-agent additions were solid – guard Zane Beadles, defensive linemen Chris Clemons, Red Bryant and Ziggy Hood and running back Toby Gerhart among them – but unlikely to produce a superstar. The draft picks of Bortles and receivers Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson were exciting. All in all, this team seems better than last years squad.

a few games this season, sitting behind Chad Henne,

The Jaguars have one of the easier schedules in the

he will most likely make a few real game passes.

NFL thanks to a division that includes Houston and

The skill-position talent is better but a lot depends on

Tennessee, which both had losing records in 2013, and

rookie receivers, and how quickly Bortles can learn the

three 2014 games against the NFC East, which was

system. The defense wasn’t very good last season and

pretty poor as a whole last year. Because the schedule

improvements this offseason should also help the team.

is so soft, the Jaguars have a pretty good chance to at

Similar to the Buccaneers in Tampa, Jacksonville started 0-8, in danger of a historically bad season, before

very least match last year’s win total, but hopefully will improve dramatically.

rallying for four second-half wins to finish 4-12 and show


Photo: Don Juan Moore

23 Photo: Don Juan Moore

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are moving forward with a lot of new surprises and personnel this year. This was a decent team that finished 4-12 a year ago, but who let a few close games slip through their fingers. They lost their first four games by a field goal or less, heartbreaking to say the least. Overall, they just didn’t quite hit their marks last year, they were legitimately bad. This year however is showing early promise on paper. The Buccaneers had one of the best spring breaks of any team in football. They have recruited heavily on the defensive side of the ball and I see a few future Pro Bowlers here if the team can manage a playoff birth this season, even after discarding playmaker Darrelle Revis. However the biggest upgrade on the team will be on the sideline. Greg Schiano is out, Lovie Smith is in, the same Head Coach who once took a team quarterbacked by Rex Grossman to the Super Bowl. Lets be clear that going from Schiano to Smith is about like ... well, the Chiefs going from Romeo Crennel to Andy Reid last year. We know

how that turned out. Smith had an 81-63 record with the Bears. He’s underrated because of a dull sideline demeanor, but he’s a good coach. And after suffering through Schiano the past couple years, Smith will probably seem like 1972 Don Shula to the Bucs. Feel free to think the Buccaneers will be bad again just because they were last season. And maybe they are overrated here; this is anticipating a huge jump. But every time I look at Tampa Bay the only real flaw I see is that they were bad last season, and I’m pretty sure that won’t count in the standings this year. The NFC South will be very competitive, but Tampa Bay has just the 19th toughest schedule in the NFL based off last year’s records. A threegame stretch from Week 3 to 5, with road games at Atlanta, Pittsburgh and New Orleans, will tell us a lot about the Buccaneers. If they can manage to win these few games, they should run the NFC South.

Photo: Don Juan Moore 24

Photo: Don Juan Moore


Miami Dolphins Trying to Get Past Last Years’ Distractions. T

he Miami Dolphins went 8-8 last season, even with all the distractions of the Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito bullying scandal that happened in the middle of the season, and the embarrassment that is brought. It surely was the NFL’s biggest story and it surely had to be on the minds of all of Miami’s offensive line. When the Dolphins were outplayed and beaten by an 0-8 Tampa Bay team on a Monday night in early November, they fell to 4-5, and the bottom simply fell out of the remainder of the season. But the Dolphins then won four of their next five, with the victories against San Diego, the Jets, Pittsburgh and the New England Patriots. Not a bad stretch. The only loss was to a 13-3 Panthers team. Miami, needing one more win to make the playoffs, lost consecutive games to rival Buffalo and then the Jets at home to finish the season. It was an unfortunate finish, but that team had to be out of gas mentally and physically by the end. All told, 8-8 was a nice accomplishment for the Dolphins.

The Dolphins drafted Tennessee offensive tackle Ja’Wuan James in the first round.

Ryan Tannehill is a quarterback nobody talks about, but he did show a few rays of hope with his performances last year. In just his second season he threw for 3,913 yards and 24 touchdowns (up from 3,294 and 12 his rookie year), all while absorbing a league-high 58 sacks behind a horrendous offensive line. His 17 interceptions were too high, but again, horrible line play was a factor. By any reasonable measure Tannehill has done just fine his first two seasons, and showed improvement in year two. He does seem to have some good weapons around him, and with the addition of former Chiefs left tackle Branden Albert, he might not take another beating this season. The Dolphin defense has always been above average, and keeping cornerback Brent Grimes from hitting free agency was a smart move by management. There are still some holes to fill on the roster, but with the texting scandal behind them, 2013 can only get better for the ‘Fins.

The Dolphins had 20 sacks from their starting defensive ends, Olivier Vernon and Cameron Wake, last season. Getting 8.5 sacks out of Wake might actually be considered a down year, because he had 15 the year before. The fact that Vernon emerged makes the Dion Jordan situation easier to swallow. Jordan, last year’s third overall pick, did very little as a rookie, then was suspended four games for a PED violation. He’s showing some telltale signs of being a bust, but at least the Dolphins weren’t counting on him.

Ryan Tannehill is a quarterback nobody talks about

Tackle Jason Fox and guard Shelley Smith were signed as well. Guard Daryn Colledge was added in June. The downside of this year is that former Gators standout, Mike Pouncey, had hip surgery in June and might miss a few games, which is a huge blow, but the line has improved as a whole. On offense, the team signed former Broncos starter Knowshawn Moreno, but Moreno was out of shape this offseason and then had arthroscopic knee surgery. Lets see how this plays out? The Dolphins only rushed for just 90 yards per game last year, which was 26th most in the NFL, and they’d probably like the run game to take some pressure off Tannehill. For that to happen, one or both of their top backs will have to earn the trust of the coaches, and to stay healthy all year long. 

The Dolphins have a reasonably tough schedule, but it’s favorable late. Miami plays three of its last four at home, winnable games against Baltimore, Minnesota and the Jets. A Week 15 trip to New England might be a big one. Lets just hope the new players and positive on field play carries the team into the future and gets them back into playoff contention once again.

Photo: Don Juan Moore 26

27 Photo: Don Juan Moore

MONTANA to DEBARTOLO for the WIN! Things are surely going to be different for the San Francisco 49’ers this coming NFL season, as the team will unveil the newly constructed Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. This stadium is truly state of the art and the buzz has already started about a Super Bowl coming to town. However, the legacy of Candlestick Park will forever remain, with old school supporters who remember the days of Joe Montana, Dwight Clark and Steve Young and Bill Walsh. In July, the “Legends of Candlestick” flag football game was the last ever football game played at the Stick, and is was a truly impressive closing. Legend Joe Montana threw his last TD pass as he hit owner Eddie DeBartolo for a touchdown to give the Niners team a 4540 victory over the visiting All-Stars team. More than 25,000 fans were in attendance for the final “game” at Candlestick, a flagfootball affair that pitted 49ers legends against All-Stars from NFL history including the Miami Dolphins own Dan Marino, as well as quarterbacks Drew Bledsoe and Dave Krieg. “It was so cool to see everybody, players you played with and some that you just met, and all the fans,” receiver Dwight Clark said. “I tried to get in shape the last few months, but I kept pulling something or another. I feel like I am letting my teammates down.” Perhaps that’s why it wasn’t Clark who Montana found in the end zone for a gamewinning toss this time. Instead, with Montana apparently wanting DeBartolo to be the last guy to ever score points in Candlestick, he tried to find his former owner on the final play,

and he did in only a way Montana could. Just like he had so many times before, Montana delivered a touchdown in Candlestick, with DeBartolo being carried off on shoulders by his team after the score.

“It’s a dream come true to get everybody back here,” DeBartolo said. “And have a fitting end to this stadium. It’s a special place that has great, great memories for us that will last forever.” Fans this year may have a longer commute than they are accustomed to, but the benefits will surely be worth it. Time has a way of catching up to things, but the memories of Candlestick will never fade. Major League Baseball has held World Series games here, the Beatles last ever show was performed here, various televisions shows have been filmed and who can forget the Loma Prieta Earthquake? Yes, the power has gone out here before, but the memories of the old Stick will never fade… Photos: Nicholas Albert



Grace Olympic Gold Medalists

Meryl Davis and partner Charlie White perform on the ice during the Stars on Ice Figure Skating tour stop at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. Photo: Alex Menendez



Victory FOX Brings UFC to Amway

FOX Sports brought the UFC fights to the Amway Arena for the first ever event in The City Beautiful. Things got ugly real quick though as the packed house enjoyed themselves until the very end. Rumor has it Shaquille O’Neal is bringing the event back as soon as he can, as he is a huge fan and still resides in Orlando. Photo: Alex Menendez



Worthy Orlando Magic Rookie

Orlando Magic’s own Victor Oladipo was recently named to the 2014 U.S. Men’s Select team that will train with the USA Basketball Men’s National Team. The rookie had an outstanding first season and will be the main player to watch on the court once again this year. Photo: Alex Menendez



Impact Judgement Day

Yuniel Dorticos (left) beats Edison Miranda during the Mike Tyson “Judgement Day� boxing event at American Airlines Arena on Thursday, July 10, 2014 in Miami, Florida Photo: Alex Menendez



Legends Two New Promoters

Boxing Hall of Fame inductees Mike Tyson and Oscar DeLaHoya pose as they sit side by side at the Turning Stone Resort for an Iron Mike Productions ESPN boxing event. Photo: Alex Menendez



My Bad Rookie Mistake

Parker Kligerman (30) gets airborne as he is involved in a crash with Ryan Truex (83), Paul Menard (27), and Dave Blaney (77) during the 56th Annual NASCAR Daytona 500 practice session at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. Photo: Alex Menendez



Rising Road to the LPGA

As the sun cracks the horizon, South African Ulrika Van Niekerk warms up on the range prior to the second round of the Symetra Tour’s Self Regional Healthcare Foundation Women’s Health Classic at the Links at Stoney Point in Greenwood, South Carolina. The Symetra Tour, nicknamed the “Road to the LPGA” is the minor tour to the Daytona Beach based LPGA. Photo: Scott A. Miller



Beauty Ring Flash

Symetra Tour player Blair O’Neal is all smiles as she plays with bubbles during a photo shoot prior to the Symetra Tour’s Self Regional Healthcare Foundation Women’s Health Classic at the Links at Stoney Point in Greenwood, South Carolina. The Symetra Tour, nicknamed the “Road to the LPGA” is the minor tour to the Daytona Beach based LPGA. Photo: Scott A. Miller



Gotcha Tough Girls

The Florida Krush (blue jersey) is one of eight teams in the Florida based Sunshine conference of the Women’s Premier Soccer League, a 50-plus team national league and is the largest women’s soccer league in the world. The league was formed in 1998 and is sanctioned by the United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA) as an affiliate of the United States Soccer Federation (USSF). Photo: Scott A. Miller



Crush Max-D

Moster Truck Max-D driven by Morgan Kane is seen during the Monster Jam big truck event at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida. This event continues to grow and has been a staple of downtown entertainment for many years in Central Florida. Photo: Alex Menendez



Strength Bacon Beatdown Muscle-ups Krystal DeLeon does ring muscle-ups, at the Bacon Beatdown CrossFit competition on June 29, 2014. CrossFit in Central Florida has taken off and is growing by leaps and bounds. Photo: Luke Tevebaugh






City stands firm in fans code of conduct By J.C. Carnahan The minor league days are nearly behind the Orlando City Soccer Club as they enter the final stretch of the USL PRO season on the brink of a move to Major League Soccer in 2015. The club has been working for much of the year to grow up a bit before making the jump to the national soccer stage, and they’re hoping their loyal fan base can mature in much the same way.

Orlando City Chief Operating Officer Brett Lashbrook said following the match against Wilmington that the “organization will make sure that everyone who is at a game this year and next year has a fun, safe environment that is safe and enjoyable for all ages.”

When fans made their way through the entrances for a match on July 12 against Wilmington at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney they were handed flyers mapping out a “fan code of conduct” that complies with MLS.

Which makes sense to most sports fans, unless your idea of a good time at a soccer game is mirroring the hooliganism that’s been rampant in leagues overseas. But not all fans bought into the club’s wishes during the match against Wilmington.

Key points made in the code of conduct policy warn against the use of inappropriate language in chants and disorderly behavior, among many other things.

“The vast majority of fans tonight, as always, complied with all rules and regulations,” Lashbrook said afterwards. “Unfortunately, a small number of fans were removed from the venue for inappropriate language. The organization continues to take this issue very seriously and we will continue to enforce the Major League Soccer code of conduct for all future matches.”

The reminders came less than a week after Orlando City’s image took a hit in a non-league match against the North American Soccer League’s Tampa Bay Rowdies on July 6, when four fans from the club’s supporters groups were arrested and 16 others ejected for similar offenses. Despite allowing the supporters groups to police themselves since the club’s arrival in 2011, Orlando City was forced to suspend the privileges of both The Ruckus and Iron Lion Firm – the recognized supports groups of the club – pending an internal review, meaning the use of drums, flags and large banners were not permitted inside the stadium.


Also noticeably absent were the use of flares, streamers and smoke bombs from the supporters section at the South end of the field, all for the sake of fan safety.

“The organization continues to take this issue very seriously..."

Orlando City, which won league titles in 2011 and 2013, returns to their old home at the remodeled Florida Citrus Bowl next season while awaiting a new soccer-specific stadium to be built just down the road on Church Street. In the meantime, they continue building their allegiances locally with sports fans who are made up of all ages and backgrounds. And they want those fans to feel as welcome as possible at every home game for many years to come.






I remember growing up on a farm

in Upstate New York. The hills were magnificent, with tall trees and corn as far as the eye can see. The air was crisp and clear, and the birds sang tunes all day as my brother and I fished in the Erie Canal, at night we chased fireflies. Zip forward to the present, and my hometown is still the same, with trusting folks and good times on every street…….

The International Boxing Hall of Fame recently held its 25th anniversary induction ceremonies in the sleepy town of Canastota, New York. Fittingly, this special anniversary was as shiny as one could hope for with ring warriors England’s Joe Calzaghe, Puerto Rico’s Felix “Tito” Trinidad and “The Golden Boy” Oscar de la Hoya heading up the 2014 class of inductees, all in their first year of eligibility. This is by far, one of the best classes to be enshrined in ANY professional sport. I was attending this event for my third year in a row, and I have to say, to have these famous boxers in my hometown was a true honor. The weather, unlike in years past, was gorgeous, and everyone enjoyed the 5K run, the celebrity golf tournament and the annual parade of champions. Fans and media alike flocked inside the museum grounds or enjoyed the best Italian food and spirits at Graziano’s Restaurant and World Famous Inn, just steps away from the madness. This year, like many others, was another special gathering that you truly have to be a part of to fully comprehend. Where else is it that you can see Oscar DeLaHoya, Leon Spinks, Miss America and Don King all gathered up in the same room? When the induction ceremonies finally got under way, it seemed as if the whole county had shut down and tuned in. The honored inductees along with other invited guests were announced at a quick pace as they strolled down the long red carpet toward the stage, almost as if it were the Academy Awards ceremony. Very organized inside the ropes, controlled chaos outside, the event was another good job on the part of the IBHOF staff. Some of the boxing attendees included two-time Olympic gold medalist Zou Shiming, Lucian Bute, Lucia Rijker, Zab Judah and upcoming Puerto Rican star Felix Verdejo, along with former favorites Dwight Muhammad Qawi, Michael Spinks, Wilfredo Gomez and of course, Canastota’s favorite adopted son, ‘Irish” Micky Ward. Parade grand marshal and Syracuse native, Miss America Nina Davuluri opened the show to a lot of flash bulbs going off.

achievements of the older, deceased inductees with his amazing voice, as only he can. It was an emotional moment, as the bell rang in the background, as he made the fans think about these great legends who had previously contributed so much to the sport of boxing: Tom Allen- Allen reigned as Heavyweight champion of America from 1873-1876 after coming to the USA from his native England. He campaigned under both London Prize Ring and Queensberry Rules. George “K.O.” Chaney- Started out as a bantamweight in 1910. The 5’1″ southpaw was known as one of the hardest hitting little men ever, retiring in 1925 with 80 knockouts. Eugene Corri- This standout referee was third man in the ring for such luminaries of his era as Tommy Burns, Sam Langford, Georges Carpentier, Eugene Criqui, Jimmy Wilde and Mickey Walker. Charles LeDoux- The French bantam and featherweight held wins over Eugene Criqui, Jim Driscoll and Johnny Coulon on the way to nearly 100 wins in 133 bouts. Mike O’Dowd- World Middleweight champ from 1917-1920, O’Dowd held wins over Ted “Kid” Lewis and Al McCoy as well as boxed “no-decisions” against Billy Miske and Jack Britton. IBHOF president Don Ackerman then resumed the honors for the living inductees in the non-participant, observer and modern categories. This is when the inductees, seated on the stage began to sweat and had the look of disbelief suddenly appear on their faces. Fans were hooting and hollering and family members smiled so wide their jaws were aching, this was a lifetime achievement that most certainly can not be duplicated……it was time for the acceptance speeches and presentations of the HOF rings. Neil Leifer- The first photographer ever to be inducted, Leifer started with Sports Illustrated at 18 years old in 1960, landing 170 cover shots along the way. His most iconic work is the ever lasting image of Muhammad Ali standing over a stricken Sonny Liston in their 1965 rematch. His favorite is actually the overhead remote shot of Ali walking away from a supine Cleveland “Big Cat’ Williams in the Houston Astrodome in 1966. Leifer now works as a full time filmmaker, producer and director.

IBHOF ballot chair Herb Goldman started the induction proceedings as always by reading the names and



I must say, meeting Neil was on the top of my list for the weekend. Being a professional photographer myself, he was a great source of knowledge and a mentor in the few hours we spoke. He is genuinely a nice guy, and the voters were dead on in picking Neil for the first photographer to be inducted into the Boxing Hall. He was more than honored, and took in the whole weekend by shooting his Nikon every chance he got. Richard Steele- Steele transitioned from swapping leather in the ring as a U.S. Marine, to officiating contests as a referee for over thirty years. Steele worked such notable bouts as Hagler-Hearns, Pryor-Arguello II, Tyson-Bruno I, Hagler-Leonard and Chavez-Taylor I among his 170-plus title fight career. He spoke highly of his trainer who told him that he would not box but become a referee, to which he claimed hogwash. It was upon realizing the he would be one of the very first “Black” professional refs, that he would change his mind. He was not only a proud man, but a true pioneer. Graham Houston- A journalist for over 50 years, Houston began in 1963 and was editor of the esteemed Boxing News by 1973. Houston moved on the become editor of Boxing Monthly, American editor of Boxing Weekly, a columnist for the Vancouver Sun and authored “The Story of the Heavyweight Champions.” Houston currently pens columns on his own Fightwiter.com as well as Fightnews.com. Barry Hearn- A top British promoter for 30 years, Hearn founded Matchroom Sport, adding boxing to his promotional empire along with darts and snooker. Hearn broke through with Bruno-Bugner, adding such stars as Nigel Benn, Chris Eubank, Steve Collins, Nassem Hamed and Lennox Lewis to his promotional roster along the way. Current stars in Hearn’s fold include Carl Froch, and Ricky Burns.s

Felix “Tito” Trinidad- Trinidad captured five belts in three weight divisions, unifying the Welter (IBF & WBC) and Jr. Middle (WBA & IBF) titles. A true puncher, Trinidad beat fellow 2014 inductee Oscar de la Hoya and world champions Fernando Vargas, David Reid and William Joppy en-route to a 42-3, 35 KOs ledger. Trinidad had a very emotional speech on stage and thanked his father so much that the entire crowd began to cry, it was not planned, and yet it touched so many hearts. It was good to see, and his native Puerto Rican fans far outnumbered any others in the Canastota crowd. Oscar “The Golden Boy” de la Hoya- After capturing Olympic gold in the 1992 Barcelona games, de la Hoya won ten belts in six weight classes in a sixteen year career. Beating fellow Hall of Famers Julio Cesar Chavez, Pernell Whitaker and Arturo Gatti, de la Hoya retired with a 39-6, 30 KOs record and runs the powerful Golden Boy Promotions. DeLaHoya came to Canastota, not really knowing what was here. He smiled everywhere he went, he visited patients in a local hospital, played golf and signed autographs for fans who chased his cart, and he even donated a check for $50,000 to the Hall for future renovations. A truly classy guy, with a heart and fists,of gold. This event was a showcase to the world and the media did a great job in highlighting this years induction. There is no town in the world that dedicates and gives of themselves, as much as the residents and volunteers of Canastota, New York. Their dreams have come true with the International Boxing Hall of Fame, and will continue to shine on for generations to come. I for one, am proud to call it my hometown.

Joe Calzaghe- “The Pride of Wales” is on the short list of undefeated boxers to enter the Hall. Starting with the WBO Super Middleweight title, Calzaghe made a division record 21 defense adding the IBF, WBC and WBA belts along the way. Calzaghe fulfilled a life-long dream by coming to the United States and annexing the Ring Magazine Light Heavyweight crowns, defeating Roy Jones, Jr. and Bernard Hopkins to cap a perfect 46-0, 32 KOs record. He told a story on stage of his father wanting him to play “Football”, or soccer, and how he preferred his fighting instead. He left “Footy” behind, and is glad he made the choice to pursue his dreams.





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