Monday, December 20, 2010

Boxing: Frazier, Spinks and company at the Ring 8 Holiday Event, last night

Several well-known prizefighters, and many decades of boxing history, were in the room last night--Sunday, 12/19/10--at the annual Ring 8-Veteran Boxers Association of New York Holiday Event and Awards Ceremony, held at Russo's on the Bay in Howard Beach, Queens.

Ring 8, one of several veteran boxers associations around the country, is a more-than-half-century-old organization dedicated to helping older boxers, and others associated with the sport, who are encountering financial or health problems.

Here are a few photographs from the evening.

Former boxing champion Emile Griffith
Emile Griffith (above), a former welterweight and middleweight champion, and a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame, may be best known for a tragic 1962 fight in which his opponent, Benny Paret, died after being pummeled by Griffith--an incident that is said to have haunted Griffith ever since.  The boxer currently suffers from pugilistic dementia (a neurological problem, sometimes called being "punch-drunk," caused by blows to the head) and had obvious difficulty in chatting and signing autographs--although his painful struggle to do both for each person who approached was an indication of what is, from all accounts, his warm and generous nature.

Former heavyweight champion Joe Frazier (right) with his son Marvis Frazier, also a former boxer.
One of the most famous names in boxing, Joe Frazier (above right)--best known for his three epic fights with Muhammad Ali, including 1975's "Thrilla in Manila"--was on hand with son Marvis (above left) to accept Ring 8's Father/Son Award.  Marvis, an ordained minister, was an amateur and professional boxer in his own right; although he's most remembered for spectacular losses to Larry Holmes and Mike Tyson, some consider him to have been an underrated and talented fighter with a solid overall record.

Joe Frazier signs autographs for attendees.

The Fraziers were attended by a few beefy bodyguards who controlled access to them, but they nonetheless chatted graciously with fans and signed memorabilia--including a couple of my Frazier/Ali posters.

From left:  Former world heavyweight champion Leon Spinks, Marvis Frazier, heavyweight boxer Vinny Maddalone, unidentified member of the U.S. military, and Joe Frazier.

Heavyweight fighter Vinny Maddalone (above, 3rd from left), who had fought and lost to Tomas Adamek at Newark's Prudential Center only 10 days previously, was also at the event.  Maddalone is a board member of Ring 8, and the owner of the Ringside Bar and Grill in Whitestone, Queens.

Former undisputed heavyweight champion Leon Spinks (above left)--like Joe Frazier, a fighter most famous for his battles with Muhammad Ali--was present as well.  Spinks faced Ali in two 1978 fights, winning the first against all expectations to gain the championship but losing the second.  Spinks never again attained similar success, and retired from boxing in 1995.  And, sadly, like many boxers, he's not doing all that well post-retirement.  "He lives in Nebraska, and he has a job where he just sort of sweeps up around the YMCA or something," one boxing journalist said privately.

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