This past week-end in Woodstock, Ontario, Canada, the 2018 installment of the Ontario Boxing Hall of Fame Inductions took place, and the festivities were a complete Knock-Out. The Ontario Boxing HOF which was founded in 2002, and is run by Dameon Okposio of DO Promotions, who is also the creator and publisher of Below the Belt Boxing Magazine, shifted its annual ceremony outside of the Greater Toronto Area for the first time to the small town of Woodstock. And the local reception of the event, which included an appearance by the town’s mayor Trevor Birtch, in addition to the Canadian Boxing contingency that made the trip to support the event, and this year’s edition, the best one yet…
The 2018 Inductees included:
Johnny Kalbhen, a former Olympic Boxer and Canadian Lightweight Champion in the 80’s, who remains a Boxing Trainer in Toronto, at the famed Cabbagetown Boxing Club.
Willie Featherstone, the former Canadian and Commonwealth Light Heavyweight Champion also in the 80’s, who actually defeated a future World Champion in Murray Sutherland, in his professional debut.
Sammy Luftspring, who reached the semi-finals of the 1932 Olympics, and later went on to win the Canadian Welterweight Title as a professional.
Johnny Coulon, who held the World Bantamweight Championship from 1910 to 1914, and though his professional record is uncertain, Coulon had participated in anywhere from 91 to 300 bouts in his illustrious pro career.
Gary Summerhays, of the famed fighting Summerhays family, who was both a Canadian and Commonwealth Light Heavyweight Champion in the 1970’s.
Frankie Genovese, of Toronto, who won the Canadian Welterweight Title in 1930’s by defeating Gordon Wallace for the belt, and proceeded to hold on to the title at the end of their trilogy of fights in 1937.
“Little” Arthur King, a staple of Boxing at the Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto in the 1940’s, who held both the Canadian Lightweight and British Commonwealth Titles at Lightweight.
Mathew Hilton, of the well accomplished Hilton family of fighters, most notably in Quebec. Mathew was actually born is Mississauga, Ontario and went 106-0 as an Amateur. As a professional, Mathew Hilton defeated Boxing Legends that included Vito Antuofermo and Wilfred Benitiez on route to becoming an IBF Super Welterweight World Champion
Travis Sugden the trail blazing Boxing Trainer who is known for bringing up Canadian Boxing Icons Eddie Melo, and Nicky Furlano, originally at Sully’s Boxing Gym, in the 70’s and 80’s.
Eddie “The Hurricane” Melo, the renowned Middleweight who took both his hometown of Toronto, and Montreal’s Boxing scenes by storm in the 80’s. Melo defeated many of Canada’s very best fighters in Gerald Bouchard, Jean Claude-LeClair and Fernand Marcotte as he tore through his opposition after turning pro at 18 years old. The Eddie Melo story, of what Travis Sugden and Melo’s management did in breaking new ground, bringing the fan favourite fighter through both Canadian Boxing Meca’s Toronto and Montreal, is one still talked about today. How the young Toronto Kid would put on the most amazing fights against seemingly insurmountable odds, and as his legend grew, so did the sport of Boxing in Canada…If Eddie Melo was on the card, anywhere, the place was always a completely packed!
Billy “The Kid” Irwin, and his devastating, picture perfect, text book left hook, especially to the body also were inducted this year. The former Canadian Boxing Superstar and ’92 Olympian won the Canadian Lightweight Title. The Niagara Falls native was also a Commonwealth Lightweight Champion and IBO World Lightweight Champion as well. Irwin’s legacy in the sport of Boxing in Canada continues to grow as he develops the next generation of Boxing talent, as a trainer in Niagara Falls, Canada.
Also during the ceremonial inductions, a special presentation was made to “Canada’s Rocky” Nicky Furlano. Already a member of the Hall of Fame, Furlano who has won more Canadian Professional Boxing Titles across the largest number of divisions in the history of Boxing in Canada, was presented with a Canadian Title Belt. In addition, Sherry Boone was presented with a Lifetime Achievement award for her ongoing phenomenal work within the sport of Boxing in Canada. A Fighter, a Trainer, former President of the Ontario Boxing Association as well as a current Director for the World Boxing Council Canada, Sherry Boone has done it all inside the sport of Boxing in Canada, and a Lifetime Achievement Award has never been so well deserved.