West Coast Boxing Hall of Fame on October 15!
It will be an October to remember as the West Coast Boxing Hall of Fame (WCBHOF) hosts their annual Banquet of Champions on Sunday, October 15. This 2017 awards gala will be held at the Garland Hotel Event Center in North Hollywood, Calif.
I caught up with the WCBHOF President and Founder Rick Farris to hear what’s in store for the new inductees, special guests and boxing fans who will all gather at this SOLD OUT gathering. This SoCal organization was founded in 2015 by Farris and Dan Hanley. This year’s bash promises to be their biggest induction yet; it sold out almost six weeks before the actual event. I’ve been fortunate to attend their events since its inception and I know this year’s function will be a first-class affair once again.
President Farris has been around the sport of boxing for decades. In his treasure trove of cherished memorabilia is a vintage photo of when he was a young boy at the Main Street Gym back in 1969. And who is little Ricky playfully “hitting” in the pic? None other than the legendary Sugar Ray Robinson. Farris was an amateur star, a professional prizefighter, and is now a noted boxing historian. The sweet science has long been in his life. And honoring the champions, legends and dedicated individuals in pugilism is his passion. The boxing veteran, who also works in the lighting department in film and TV, has worked tirelessly with his staff and Board of Directors to ensure a knockout day come October 15. There will also be many surprise guests and memorable moments included in the festivities. The WCBHOF will pay tribute to the awardees with respect and honor.
The 2017 honorees are: Oscar Albarado, Paul Banke, Frankie Crawford, Albert Davila, Frankie Duarte, Loreto Garza, Andy Kid Heilman, Ernie Lopez, Randy Shields, Paul Vaden, Pancho Villa, Bill Caplan, Mickey Davies, Bobby DePhilippis, Dick Enberg, and Blanca Gutierrez. Ryan O’Neal will receive the “Tom Kelly Lifetime Achievement Award” for his contribution to boxing.
Listen in as Rick Farris shares a few of the details of what his third annual ceremony will be like!
Michele Chong: Hi Rick! Your event is less than a month away now; it sold out weeks ahead of time. Tell me what the ticket holders can expect come October 15?
Rick Farris: We have once again tapped into a “Legends of the Olympic Auditorium” theme and Filipino artist and 2016 WCBHOF inductee, Jun Aquino, will return with paintings of all sixteen 2017 inductees to be featured in our WCBHOF “Art of Boxing” exhibit. This year all inductees will be presented their original portraits by Mr. Aquino along with our Hall of Fame awards.
MC: That’s great news! Jun Aquino will be there in person? And Jim FitzGerald is your official emcee again?
RF: Jim Fitzgerald will return for the third straight year as the “Voice” of the West Coast Boxing Hall of Fame. Jun Aquino will return to accept Pancho Villa’s Hall of Fame induction and once again present WCBHOF’s “Art of Boxing” feature. This is what is necessary for Jun to bring his art from the Philippines. He paints there 24/7 and knocks out amazing work in unbelieveable time, but to get that art here is the real challenge. Their are laws and restrictions related to bringing art out of the Philippines; it requires an “invitation” and the approval of the Secretary of State.
MC: This will be your third year of your awards. It’s grown each and every year. Is this what you and co-founder Dan Hanley first envisioned?
RF: Although it’s nice to grow comfortably every year, I believe Dan and I were perhaps more motivated to create a true Hall of Fame that represented accurate history and a well maintained honor roll. The easiest part is throwing a party once a year and inviting a bunch of cool guests, champions, etc. But at the end of the day, the goal is to carry the honor and history into the future, to enshrine the legends for more than one day. A museum was a “distant goal” but surprisingly, such a reality is closer than I expected.
MC: You will have to keep us posted on your future museum! What are you personally looking forward to most at your 3rd Annual WCBHOF Banquet of Champions?
RF: I am not only an ex-boxer, I am a fan of these legends and many have been friends for many for years. I know their stories, we grew up together in boxing, so for me this is an annual reunion where we have a chance to touch bases and relive their glory days.
MC: There are various Hall of Fames throughout the world…All are unique in their own way. What would you say is unique about the WCBHOF?
RF: The common thread among veteran boxer organizations is a love and appreciation of boxing and boxers. We all do our best to honor boxing legends, and we all do it a little differently. The WCBHOF likes to do with art, celebrities, and a strong focus on the HISTORY. We like to share a story that will share the history!
MC: You’ve been around boxing since you were a child and you also were a pro fighter and noted boxing historian. What is it about the sport that makes you want to stay connected to it?
RF: I’m 65. I started boxing in 1964 when I was 12. As a kid I did not just train and compete in boxing, I lived the sport, read everything I could get my hands on, etc. I had the chance to grow up with boxing legends and it is something that is just a part of me, way beyond the pro and amateur bouts I fought. I was not world championship material, but I had a chance to trade blows with legends, so I understand what boxing is about and I like to share it.
MC: If you could narrow it down, who are your three favorite boxers of the past and who (of the current fighters) do you follow now and why?
RF: In many ways I live in boxing’s past and I certainly have my favorites, but it is hard for me to mention just three. However, I will name three of my favorites . . . Roberto Duran, Willie Pep and Jack Dempsey (3 of at least 100 favorites!). Today’s boxers? I always have my eyes out for that special boxer!
MC: On October 15, you will have many special guests in attendance (besides the award recipients). Can you give us a sneak peek at some of the former champs who will be attending?
RF: West Coast Boxing Hall of Famers and world champs “Hercules” Mike Weaver, Carlos Palomino, Danny “Little Red” Lopez, Rodolfo “El Gato” Gonzalez, Tony “The Tiger” Lopez, Gabriel Ruelas, Rafael Ruelas, Timothy Bradley, Richie Savala, the Weaver Triplets–Floyd, Lloyd and Troy, the “Pasadena Kid” Joey Olivera, Javier Mora, Jeff Bumpus, Thell Torrence, Hedgemon Robertson, Jeff Crawford, WBC heavyweight champ Martha Salazar, Raul “Chilo” Carranza, Willie Lucero, Shawn “Sioux Warrior” Hawk, referee Jack Reiss, L.A. Times sports editor Lance Pugmire, The Ring Magazine’s editor-in-chief Michael Rosenthal and others.
We will also induct Dick Enberg, the most awarded broadcaster in history, the original “Voice” of Thursday night “Boxing from the Olympic” along with Olympic matchmaker Mickey Davies, legendary publicist Bill Caplan, San Diego’s longest active promoter Bobby DePhilippis, and Babyface Boxing’s Blanca Gutierrez. We will also present Ryan O’Neal with the “Tom Kelly Lifetime Achievement Award” for his contributions to boxing and boxers.
MC: Last year you surprised the family of the late Bobby Chacon with his boxing robe beautifully restored and unveiled for the spectators to view up close. Can you share any special features to your show this year?
RF: WCBHOF Memorabilia Director Frank Aragon will once again bring 2017 inductee robes, posters, an assortment of boxer’s equipment and history that tap into the DNA of West Coast boxing history!
One last thing, UNIVISION will be present; the cast of a Univision production I met (they had just interviewed Juan Manuel Marquez) will be in attendance. Our event coordinator is brilliant; Dimas does events for the Oscars, Emmys, Grammys, etc. He is a personal friend and is having fun helping us create something like never before!
MC: Congrats again, Rick. Looking forward to your event!
RF: Thanks, Michele!
Mark this day in your calendar. October 15 will be a day to remember in the boxing world.
2016 WCBHOF Article/Photos:
2015 WCBHOF Article/Photos:
2015 Preview Piece:
Photos by Michele Chong; Sugar Ray Robinson photo courtesy of Rick Farris
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