By John J. Raspanti
The complexities of boxing and life were on display last weekend at the third annual West Coast Boxing Hall of Fame event held at the Garland Hotel in North Hollywood, CA.
Career highlights showcased their achievements. All the inductees shared stories of the one thing they have in common, their love for the sweet science.For former junior middleweight champion Paul Vaden, it was passion, and a dream. For bantamweight titleholder Albert Davila, it was about family. Andy “Kid” Heilman talked of the sport’s influence on his recent marriage. Oscar “Shotgun” Albarado’s family reminisced about the demons their father battled inside and outside of the ring. Articulate former welterweight contender Randy Shields reminded all in attendance that defense is a forgotten art, while Paul Banke rejoiced in being alive.
Other inductee’s included Loreto Garza, Frankie Duarte, the late Pancho Villa, Blanca Gutierrez, and deceased fighters, Frankie Crawford, and Ernie Lopez, whose awards were accepted by their sons, Jeffrey, and Lance. Crawford recalled that his father was his best friend, while Lopez read a funny poem written by his dad.
Non-boxers honored were publicist Bill Caplan, promoter Bobby DePhillipis, legendary sports commentator Dick Enberg, and actor Ryan O’Neal. This writer accepted the “Book of the Year” award for “Intimate Warfare” co-written with Dennis Taylor.
Caplan proudly announced that he’s the oldest living publicist in boxing, while Enberg talked humorously about his former partner and fellow inductee, Mickey Davis.
O’Neal was visibly moved while accepting “The Tom Kelly Award” for his contributions to boxing and boxers. A grainy film from the 1960s showed O’Neal sparring with heavyweight legend Joe Frazier. O’Neal was a regular at the Olympic Auditorium in 1960s and managed welterweight contender Hedgemon Lewis.
A boxer’s career can be short but vivid. They engage in the most brutal sport. Remembering their accomplishments is important – because what they do should never be forgotten.