For the past two years the early summer months have brought the sport of boxing back to the Atlantic City Boardwalk. No, not in the traditional way that fans remember how the Casino/Resort city of Atlantis would shake up the boardwalk with one or two, sometimes as many as three different fight cards on the same day. This will be the third year that the Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame (ACBHOF) provides fight fans with the chance to both discover and reconnect with the rich boxing history that has transpired in Atlantic City. Yes, it is true and has been well documented that Atlantic City has fallen on some tough times in recent memory. However, starting in 2017 there was a call for a resurgence for the city to try and bring it back to the glory days as a summer destination for all prior to the economic crash.
Last year, while there was a start to bringing back actual fights of meaning to the city with new casinos like the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino and the Ocean Casino Resorts rising from the ashes of the past eight wonders of the world, a new boxing tradition has become the norm for the city. So much so that for the first time the induction weekend will be kicked off by a special night of fights presented by Golden Boy Promotions on Thursday night June 20th. (More on this fight card along with ticket information coming to TWI next week.)
Over the course of the past two years, the ACBHOF has been a three-day weekend hosted at the Claridge Hotel complete with an intimate VIP reception on Friday night that greeted all the inductees and honorees. The second day provided fans the chance to see special exhibits while they met with past world champions and got to buy merchandise and take pictures with their heroes. “Our mission is to honor, preserve, and celebrate the excellence of Atlantic City’s rich boxing history and there's no better place to highlight this tradition than at the historic Claridge-A Radisson Hotel. My team and I are excited about this collaboration,” stated Ray McCline the President of the ACBHOF.
Evander Holyfield, Riddick Bowe, Arturo Gatti, Larry Holmes, Michael Spinks, and Mike Tyson are some of the fighters that have been inducted into the ACBHOF in the past two years. Of course, the third day was the when the inductees had their ceremony and official induction.
With the success from the past two years, this third year of events has been updated and includes the special night of fights. Of course, there will be the return of the VIP reception along with the opening of the Legends Café. Also, on the night of June 21st, there will be the screening of the 30-minute documentary, Muhammed Ali: Me Whee. It’s an in depth look at the “Greatest's” time in between fights at his training camp in Deer Lake Pennsylvania. Directed by Drew Stone, it’s a personal piece of film for Stone, since his father recorded the footage during his time with Ali. Most of the footage has never been seen by fight fans.
The Legends Café has been added to the event will feature coffee and conversation with many boxing legends from the New Jersey and Pennsylvania area. Artwork and exhibits including work by famed boxing artist Patrick Killiam will also be on hand. A fan experience will continue at the Tennessee Beer Hall, which will be open to the public. With a comedy show back at the Claridge closing out the third night of festivities, the main event takes place on Sunday in the late afternoon when the 2019 Hall of Fame class receives their induction honors.
This year’s class features former world champion Iran Barkley, who has been popular with fans the past two years. Virgil Hill Sr., along with John Brown, and Tim Witherspoon Jr. are also decorated fighters that have had memorable fights in Atlantic City. Bernard Hopkins, Micky Ward, and Roberto Duran will most likely garner the most fanfare, as each have had made boxing history in Atlantic City. Hopkins had his first fight, a loss, in A.C. and returned to the city several times before capturing two of his biggest victories over Kelly Pavlik and Antonio Tarver at Boardwalk Hall.
Micky Ward will forever be linked with Arturo Gatti due to their trilogy that inspired many sports fans in the early 2000’s. Ward rightly joins Gatti who was inducted in the first class, but had many other memorable nights in A.C. during his career. Each year, along with the fighters that are inducted, there are always inductees that are contributors to the world of the sport outside of the ring.
Famed cutman Ace Marotta and trainer English “Bouie” Fisher will also join the class of 2019. Nigel Collins, who currently writes for ESPN, is a former editor and chief for the “Bible of Boxing,” Ring Magazine will be honored for his tremendous career of not only following and reporting on the sport. But also, for his unique voice that has helped to define a lot of the history that has taken place in the sport, especially in Atlantic City.
Tickets for the ACBHOF weekend are still available and can be purchased by visiting https://www.acbhof.com/ or by calling the ACBHOF for more information at: (609) 318-3188.
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