Story and photos by Boxing Bob Newman
A who’s who of New England boxing luminaries gathered for the 10th annual Connecticut Boxing Hall of Fame induction ceremony and banquet Saturday night at the Mohegan Sun Uncas Ballroom, in Uncasville, CT. This year’s inductees included boxers John “The Quiet Man” Ruiz, Peter “Pride of Providence” Manfredo, Jr., referee Michael Ortega, IBF president Daryl Peoples, trainer Paul Cichon and the late boxing judge William Hutt.
In addition to the milestone decade of inductions, recognitions and honorees in boxing within the nutmeg state, tonight also marked the end of an era for CBHOF president Glenn Feldman, who has been president since day one. Feldman’s successor will take office after an election next year.
Several former inductees were on hand including inaugural CBHOF class member and former WBC/WBA welterweight champ Marlon Starling, “Irish” Micky Ward, former WBA 154 lb. champ “Tremendous” Travis Simms, promoter Jimmy Burchfield, former European flyweight champ Luigi Camputaro and USBA & NABF lightweight champ Israel “Pito” Cardona among others.
The cocktail hour began at 6 p.m. as video highlights and slide show of the inductees past and present played on a large screen in the ballroom. Dinner commenced at 7 p.m. and featured perfectly prepared filet mignon.
Former NABF (160 & 168) and IBO champ (160) Manfredo, Jr. has been a New England favorite since he turned pro in 2000. Manfredo came into national recognition during the inaugural season of the reality show “The Contender” in 2004. After suffering an upset decision loss to Alfonso Gomez in the opening bout of the series, Manfredo was voted back onto the show when another contestant fell out. He made it to the finals, losing a close decision to future world champ Sergio Mora. After The Contender ended, Manfredo, Jr. would have varied success, picking up those NABF and IBO belts along the way, only losing to world champs Mora in a rematch, hall of famer Joe Calzaghe, Sakio Bika, Jeff Lacey and Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. Retiring last year in 2013, Manfredo, Jr’s record stands at 40-7, 21 KOs.
Two-Time WBA heavyweight champion John “The Quietman” Ruiz hailed from Chelsea, MA, but had several bouts in Connecticut, most famously, his third battle with Evander Holyfield in which the “Quiet Man” retained his WBA title with a twelve round draw. Ruiz finished his career a respectable 44-9-1, 30 KOs. Ruiz was extremely grateful to his siblings, his “feisty” mom and his wife for their support during his career.
Referee Michael Ortega has officiated over 45 world title fights and has a boxing pedigree- his father was 50s and 60s welter and middleweight contender Gaspar Ortega and godfather is Hall of fame referee Joe Cortez. Ortega admitted that the job of refereeing often took him away from his family and hoped for their understanding in that he may be able to safely send a fighter, uninjured back home to his or her family after a bout. He quipped that his early start in refereeing came from working the battles between his Puerto Rican mom and Mexican father- in which he maintained his mom is still undefeated!
Late boxing judge William Hutt was known as “Mr. Boxing” in Connecticut, always wanting to help the sport in any way possible, from the amateur level up through the pro ranks. Many members of the international boxing community had stayed at the Hutt home on their travels through Connecticut. Hutt’s widow accepted his induction plaque in his honor.
IBF president Daryl Peoples has been a supporter of the CBHOF, having attended every induction since the hall’s inception in 2005. Working his way up the ranks of the IBF since joining the federation in 2005, Peoples has raised the status of the New Jersey- based sanctioning body since taking over the presidency in 2010.
Trainer and director of the Manchester PAL boxing program, Paul Cichon (pronounced see-shon) has trained sixteen national amateur champions over the years and is currently director of the Manchester Ring of Champions Society. Cichon was also awarded “Best Dressed Inductee” in response to his sleeveless tuxedo, exposing his still muscular and tattooed arms.
Master of ceremonies was ring announcer David Diamante, who along with inductee Peter Manfredo, Jr. and Peter Manfredo, Sr. was honored for having birthdays this month, Diamante’s being today.
Other special awards given on this night were:
Connecticut professional boxer of the year: Luis Rosa, 17-0, amateur record of 95-10
Connecticut amateur boxer of the year: Izaih Melendez, 21 wins and a former golden gloves champ
Amateur official of the year: Samantha Dane, MD ringside physician for USA Boxing
William Hutt official of the year: Danny Schiavone, over 1000 amateur fights reffed, and world title fights with the IBF and WBC since 2002.
A 50/50 raffled earned $700 for the CBHOF and over $1000 more from a silent auction of autographed boxing memorabilia.