By John J. Raspanti
Nine world champions, a ground-breaking promoter, a talented writer, a brilliant artist, and a father-son team make up the 2016 class of The West Coast Boxing Hall of Fame Banquet of Champions.
The event is sold-out.
“I’m thrilled by the support from the boxing community,” stated West Coast Boxing president Rick Farris.
Bobby Chacon, Mike Weaver, Lucia Riker, Israel Vazquez, Tony “The Tiger” Lopez, Henry Armstrong, Armando Ramos, Jerry Quarry, Fidel LaBarba, Genaro Hernandez, Aileen Eaton, Jun Aquino, Jose Sulaiman, his son Maurcio, and William O’Neill will be inducted September 25 at the Garland Hotel Event Center in North Hollywood, CA.
Chacon, a two-division champion, was one of the most electrifying fighters of his time. His brawls with Alexis Arguello, Cornelius Boza-Edwards, and Rafael “Bazooka” Limon will never be forgotten.
Rijker, dubbed “the most dangerous woman in boxing,” won all 17 of her professional fights, with 14 knockouts. She’s the first female boxing champion to be inducted into the West Coast Boxing Hall of Fame.
Weaver captured the heavyweight championship of the world in 1980 by scoring a one-punch knockout over defending champion John Tate.
Vazquez, a three-time world champion, won eight of nine title fights in a career that spanned 15 years. His trilogy with Rafael Marquez will live forever in boxing lore.
Lopez, one of the most popular fighters from the Northern California area, held world titles in super featherweight, and lightweight division. He was named Ring magazine’s comeback fighter of the year in 1990.
Armstrong is the only fighter in history to hold world titles in three weight divisions simultaneously. He compiled an amazing record of 151-21, 101 KOs. Bert Sugar ranked Armstrong as the second greatest fighter of all-time.
Ramos, a two-time world champion, was a boxing rock star in the 1960s. His bout with former champion Sugar Ramos at the Olympic Auditorium in 1970 is considered by many to be one of the greatest fights in West Coast history.
Quarry was one of the most talented heavyweights to never win a world title. The California native mixed it up with champions Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, and Floyd Patterson. He defeated contenders Jimmy Ellis, Ron Lyle and Earnie Shavers.
LaBarba was only 19 years old when he won the flyweight title in 1925. He fought tenacious battles with Battling Battalino and Kid Chocolate. When his ring career ended in 1933, La Barba found success as a screenwriter.
Hernandez was one of the nicest people to ever grace a boxing ring. He held the super feather weight twice in the 1990s.
Eaton was one of the most influential promoters the west coast has ever produced. In 1960s, her company, operating out of the Olympic Auditorium, promoted such fighters as Floyd Patterson, Danny Lopez, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, and Carlos Palomino.
Aquino, a member of the Henry Armstrong Foundation, and official artist of the West Coast Boxing Hall of Fame, is hard at work on paintings of his fellow inductees.
"Never in my wildest dreams did I think that one day I’d be receiving an award (and induction) for my boxing art together with the Hall of Famer and legends of boxing in America," said Aquino. “This is the award I will treasure forever."
The late Jose Suliman and his son Maurcio, are both dedicated to improving the lives of fighters. Jose is the former president of the WBC—while Maurcio holds the same post today.
O’Neill wrote for Boxing Illustrated and a number of newspapers during his career. He was also a close and trusted friend of Jerry Quarry.
The West Coast Boxing Hall of Fame is dedicated in upholding the integrity, accuracy and memory of the great fighters of the past.