LAS VEGAS, NEV. (August 12, 2017) -- The stars were aligned at the 2017 Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame (NVBHOF) Official Induction Ceremony that took place this month at Caesars in Las Vegas.
The weekend of August 11 and 12 featured a constant cavalcade of boxing superstars who all collided at this historic event presented by the NVBHOF President/CEO Michelle Corrales-Lewis and former President and Founder Rich Marotta.
There was something for everyone from a knockout Meet & Greet event to the first-ever NVBHOF WBC Amateur Boxing show to Saturday night’s eye-catching gala in the famed Caesars Palace Ballroom. Boxing fans got to take photos and get autographs from their favorite ring heroes, take pics with the late Diego Corrales’ WBC championship belt in in the X Factor Photo Booth, shop at a KO row of vendors all catering to the needs of the most ardent fight fan, and also watch prizefighters/champs Lucia Rijker, Ana Julaton, Elena Reid and Laura Serrano get together for an all-female mitt session.
There was so much pizazz packed into two days of celebrations showcasing all the hard work the NVBHOF crew put into planning this year’s epic affair. This was their fifth annual event and the organization continues to grow in leaps and bounds each and every year.
The nonprofit NVBHOF honored a hard-hitting group of honorees including the 2017 Inductees included Non-Nevada Resident Boxers: Thomas “Hitman” Hearns, Erik “El Terrible” Morales, Michael Spinks, Salvador Sanchez, Michael Carbajal, Lucia Rijker; Nevada Resident Boxers: Leon Spinks, Richie Sandoval, Ken Norton; Non-Boxer Category: Rafael Garcia, Debbie Munch, Mel Greb, Dr. Elias Ghanem, and Davey Pearl. Special awards will also be presented to current fighters Shawn Porter, Layla McCarter, Yarisel Ramirez, Emiliano Fernando Vargas, Kevin Newman and Latondria Jones, the WBC’s Jill Diamond and boxing veteran Jimmy Montoya.
Special awards were presented at a VIP party on Friday night with the induction ceremony taking place on Saturday evening. Emcees for the gatherings were Al Bernstein, Crystina Poncher, James “Smitty” Smith, Amber Dixon and Lisa King. Saturday’s soirée showcased a Gifting Suite for the VIP guests, inductees and luminaries, a splashy walkout with Caesars famed cast of characters, a fundraising auction with once-in-a-lifetime items, a live singing performance by boxing officials Kenny Bayless, Kermit Bayless, Bobby Hoyle and Russ Mora and a National Anthem performance by teen sensation Bridget Gonzalez.
There were highlights aplenty. The fans and champs mentioned how impressed they were with all the details the NVBHOF team provided to ensure an instant classic, an event to remember.
The VIP Lounge (helmed by Melissa Agyepong and bDashed) was beautifully decorated (with cool neon signs and paintings by Mohammad Mubarak) and had plush seating which made for a very nice place for the superstars to relax before heading out to join the hundreds of attendees inside the banquet. There was a huge line of media capturing all the red carpet arrivals and the flashes strobed all night long.
And the ceremony itself was a nonstop flow of vintage film clips, heartfelt speeches, funny anecdotes and more. The spectators were blown away be seeing former ring rivals embrace, furthering to cement their bond–onstage and in the limelight. Seeing Sugar Ray Leonard and Tommy Hearns continue their current day “bromance” was fantastic to see; and this year’s awards shined extra bright with Mexican warriors Erik “El Terrible” Morrales and ex-foe Marco Antonio Barrera crack jokes between them and hug it out on stage. These men provided fireworks in the ring and made history together while enemies inside the ropes. At this month’s NVBHOF outing, these gladiators showed class and the utmost respect for each other. Bloodshed and bruised egos were a thing of the past; love and respect between these ring kings ruled the night at the 2017 NVBHOF.
And the ticket holders in the ballroom all knew they were watching historic moments taking place.
The inductees received their well-deserved swag on stage too. The awardees were presented with mini World Boxing Council (WBC) belts, mini boxing rings by Rick Nieto, NVBHOF diamond rings and bronze statues by trainer/sculptor Steve Harpst.
This 5th annual awards dinner was one to remember. This year’s centerpieces were mini heavybags (that actually moved) with the 2017 fighter inductees’ faces seen on the bag (crafted by Hovo at Nazo Boxing) along with the special desserts that the NVBHOF have become known for. The 2017 masterpiece was a highly-detailed concoction made of an all-edible recreation of the NVBHOF bronze statue complete with a gold boxing glove on top of the gourmet treat!
The NVBHOF once again provided an A+ celebration culminating in their August 12 awards bash.
Many of the new inductees raved about the hospitality and generosity of the NVBHOF (the Board of Directors, sponsors, vendors and volunteers) and how much it meant for them to be part of this impressive weekend with the champions. Champ Lucia Rijker and pro basketball player Chatilla van Grinsven mentioned to me what a great time was had at all of the Vegas festivities. They thanked Michelle Corrales-Lewis (who was married to the late Diego “Chico” Corrales) and Rich Marotta for all the happenings the inductees got to experience.
Besides the 2017 inductees, the get-togethers were a smashing success with so many famous faces in attendance it would be impossible for me to name them all. From rapper Flavor Flav (“Yeah Boy!”) to Rasheda Ali (daughter of Muhammad Ali) to boxing siblings Leon Spinks and Mike “Jinx” Spinks being inducted at the same time, there were so many celebrity sightings throughout the weekend.
Check out some of my exclusive snapshots from the glittering gala including pics of Erik Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera, Ray Leonard, Tommy Hearns, Badou Jack, Fernando Vargas, Lucia Rijker, Shawn Porter, Joel Casamayor, Richie Sandoval, Kevin Kelley, Stevie Forbes, Caleb Plant, World Boxing Council (WBC) President Mauricio Sulaiman, Jordan Hardy, Jimmy Montoya, Richard Steele, James Wimberly, Rasheda Ali, Grant Elvis Phillips and son (Grant Gloves), and more.
Congratulations to all!