A Knockout “Kingdom Day” with the Champs
The 32nd Annual Kingdom Day Parade was a knockout day for those in Los Angeles. A large group of prizefighters joined the community in this annual January tradition that honors Dr. Martin Luther King.
This was my second year marching with my boxing family and this year’s parade was another great day in the books.
The Henry Armstrong Foundation (HAF), the World Boxing Council (WBC) and WBC Cares lent a strong show of support during this MLK holiday parade. The group featured a festive boxing-themed float, complete with a mini ring, walkout song and shiny championship belts. Walking (and hitting the mitts) alongside the red, white and blue moving “boxing ring” was a team of sluggers, trainers, officials and more. The eye-catching float was adorned with a Jun Aquino work of art paying tribute to Henry Armstrong, WBC Cares medallions, the Joel De La Hoya Management logo, photos of the honorees, etc.
As the cold chill of the morning gave way to a beautiful warm SoCal day, the athletes all got together to donate their time to paying tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Henry Armstrong, Don Jose Sulaiman, and Muhammad Ali (the designated honorees of this year’s float). Parade President/CEO Adrian Dove invited the HAF nonprofit to once again take part in this January 16 fiesta.
Edward Scott Jr. (the grandson of the great Henry Armstrong) and his wife Kimberly worked tireless to ensure the float would be ready for the day. Thanks to generous sponsors and donations from participants, this KO group was ready to shine. And participants were outfitted in this year’s special-edition T-shirt showcased the prized painting of Henry Armstrong by renowned painter Jun Aquino.
The streets of L.A. were lined with parade goers ready to cheer on their favorite champ. I had a blast seeing the crowd’s reaction as the float made their way to the forefront. The community was strong; there was dancing, singing, live animals, neighborhood BBQs, marching bands, city officials, costumed characters, fist bumping with the fans, and lots of cheers throughout the miles we walked.
Waving to the crowd were Daniel Ponce de Leon, Randy Caballero, Jason Quigley, Gerald Washington, Daniel Franco, Paul Banke, Rommel Caballero, David Mijares, Aron Martinez, Neeco Macias, Pablo Rubio, Walter Sarnoi, Edwin Sandoval, WBC’s Jill Diamond, Mo Noor, Nancy Rodriguez, boxing’s Sam Watson, James Brock, Rachel Charles, Steve Harpst, Roger Ruiz, Michael Montero, Tiffany Lam, Larry and Marsha Covin, Chris Alexander, writer/actress Carmen LoBue, California State Athletic Commission’s (CSAC) Larry Ervin, Willie Arriola and Sharon Sands, and many more. There was also a hard working trio from the Burbank Boxing Club: Oscar Portillo Jr., Danny Garcia and Angel Silva hit the boxing mitts and shadowboxed for over two hours as they walked the parade route.
The fans loved interacting with the pro champs and fighters; I saw several fans punching along with the guys in support. Manning the microphone on the fancy float was noted ring announcer Jim FitzGerald. “Fitz” took time to introduce all the fighters and special guests as each new block came into view. Ever the professional, his voice remained strong and enthusiastic and he introduced the luminaries on each and every block.
Towards the end of the parade, the champions and pugilists were featured on the news as ABC7 News’ Elex Michaelson did a live interview with Edward Scott Jr. and Sam Watson with the fighters seen on and around the float.
This year’s parade came together through hard work, dedication, generosity and loyalty to all those involved. While economic times may be tough this year, everyone dug deep to ensure the parade was a success. After our march was over, Edward Scott Jr. presented WBC medals and awards to recognized sponsors and individuals who went the extra mile.
The day was fun and festive, the camaraderie excellent. The champs (past, present and future) all joined forces to make this 2017 Kingdom Day Parade a truly memorable one!
Photos by Michele Chong