Sportinterview

Second Illinois Boxing Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony takes place on November 4th

As the year went by since the First Illinois Boxing Hall of Fame, the co-director of the event, Mike McNamara reflected on the previous event and glimpsed into hosting the Second Illinois Boxing Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

How are you feeling as we are just hours away from the Second Boxing Hall of Fame Induction?

I will be so glad, when it is over. (Laughs.)

A year went by pretty quick since the last event… How much work went into this year’s ceremony?

Let me start with giving the readers a little bit of the background. Pete Hoffman and I started 13 years ago running Illinois Martial Arts Hall of Fame. Because we worked for the Boxing Commission we knew a lot of the officials and fighters. The term martials arts mean fighting arts, so a couple of years ago we inducted into Illinois Martial Arts HOF a few of boxing trainers, boxers and referees, including Pete Podgorski. They came to our reward ceremony. And Pete was the one who said, “This is fantastic! They have anything like that for boxing. Why don’t you, guys, do anything like that for boxing, because you are familiar with it anyways?” So we thought about it for a while, and we did it. We really had no idea, what the reaction would be putting on our first one. But we sold out like in a couple of weeks. It was a nice event. So leading up to this year, I think it went a lot more smoothly. And we are at the same spot as we were last year. If this is not a sell out, it will be at the sell out level.

Did you change any logistics doing this year event? Did you do anything differently?

Every time we put this type of event on, whether it is martial arts or boxing, there are always things that you learn from the previous event or events. I think the biggest change that we implemented this year was switching the amount of people on the board of advisers. Last year we had 5 of them; after last event we decided that we wanted to have a more diverse group, so we could get various opinions on who should belong to the Hall of Fame. So we are up to 15 advisers this year, most of them from the HOF last year plus the original five. The way we worked it: we had those 15 people sent the list of people, who should be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Approximately we wanted to have 20 inductees. The first few inductees will be a little bit larger than normal, because we have 150 years of boxing history, so there are a lot of names outhere. When we compiled all the names, there were like 60 suggestions. We sent the list to voters and the top 20 (in this case top 20, but of there is a tie, they all will make it). The top ones were the ones that we elected this year. We will end up inducting 25 people. This is one of the ways we changed since the last year. Also people are a little bit more familiar with us now. The event has been covered on a lot of the boxing sites and some of the newspapers. WGN had a segment with Pete Hoffman last year, and he has just been there this year about a week ago discussing what a Hall of Fame was. More people are aware of it now. And that is making it a lot easier for us too.

I heard you were having hard time locating some people that are getting inducted this year into the HOF…

When you do a HOF, especially a boxers’ HOF when you are going further back in time, it is difficult to find members or, if we are inducting posthumous members, to find their families. Last year we were trying to find everybody before we put the names out. That took forever. This year we published the names of inductees first. That was actually another thing we did differently this year. That helped us in a way that we had family members and actually the living inductees contact us with information on the people that we were having hard time locating. So we located everybody, but one person this year, Fred Houpe. We are still trying to work on it. And that is a difficult to do, as there is no centurial registry for us to find any fighters or fighters families.

Pete Hoffman (l), Mike McNamara (r)
Pete Hoffman (l), Mike McNamara (r). Photo: Tomba Images

Will every other inductee, besides the ones, of course, who are deceased, be present?

Last year due to health issues and different commitment issues a few people couldn’t make it. We invited them back this year to give them the credit if front of the audience. This year (besides Fred Houpe that I mentioned already) the only other one, who is not able to join us, will be James Kaulentis. He will be unfortunately out of town.

Polish Andrew Golota is flying in?

The Golotas have signed in. I have spoken with missis Golota several times. They are bringing friends and according to her, they are very excited that he is being inducted and looking forward to the event.

Who will be accepting the Muhammed Ali honor?

Mike Joyce is married to Muhammed Ali’s daughter, Jamillah. They both will accept the reward for Muhammed Ali.

 Thank you and good luck tonight!

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