Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame THIS Weekend!
Exclusive Preview: Friday and Saturday Festivities
By Michele Chong
This weekend will be an epic one as the nonprofit Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame (NVBHOF) hosts its yearly Induction Gala at Caesars in Las Vegas. This charitable organization will helm their 5th annual event–and this year promises to be bigger than ever.
I've been fortunate to have covered this highly-anticipated bash since its inception with legendary sportscaster and NVBHOF Founder Rich Marotta. This star-studded gathering attracts the biggest and brightest names in the sport and offers boxing aficionados a golden opportunity to meet their heroes in a fan-friendly environment for all. THIS Friday and Saturday, August 11 and 12 will offer unique and exciting events for the ticket holders. Here is my special preview of what the attendees can expect from the 2017 Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame weekend!
From amateur boxing to championship experiences to up-close Meet & Greets with your favorite champ, the NVBHOF fan fest, amateur show, dinner and awards ceremony will have something for everyone. On track to be a sell out, be sure to get your tickets today (www.nvbhof.com). Online ticket sales end Tuesday, August 8! Prices at the door (if tickets are still available) will be higher so don't delay!
The 2017 Inductees include Non-Nevada Resident Boxers: Thomas "Hitman" Hearns, Erik "El Terrible" Morales, Michael Spinks, Salvador Sanchez, Michael Carbajal, Lucia Rijker; Nevada Resident Boxers: Leon Spinks, Richie Sandoval, Ken Norton; Non-Boxer Category: Rafael Garcia, Debbie Munch, Mel Greb, Dr. Elias Ghanem, and Davey Pearl. Special awards will also be presented to current fighters Shawn Porter, Layla McCarter, Yarisel Ramirez, Emiliano Fernando Vargas, Kevin Newman and Latondria Jones. The WBC's Jill Diamond and boxing veteran Jimmy Montoya will also be honored. The awards show will be emceed by the famed Al Bernstein and Crystina Poncher. Proceeds from the fundraising weekend will go to boxing-related charities and those in need who are connected to the sweet science.
I caught up with CEO/President Michelle Corrales-Lewis to hear about some of the offerings that the guests will experience this weekend.
She has been truly dedicated in working with founder and previous President Rich Marotta to ensure the NVBHOF continues to grow and expand as they gain worldwide respect from the boxing world.
The widow of beloved champion Diego "Chico" Corrales, Michelle has been a force in planning and organizing this year's gala with their Board of Directors, the Caesars team, prizefighters, champs, VIP guests, sponsors, vendors, volunteers, boxing fans and more. Hear what the hardworking Corrales has to say about this weekend!
Michele Chong: Hi Michelle! Your event is almost here. So what's new for this year's installment?
Michelle Corrales-Lewis: We added the WBC Amateur Green Belt Challenge which takes place at 11 a.m. on August 12 in the Roman Ballroom at Caesars Palace. It's free to attend and participate; we are inviting everyone to come out and enjoy our wonderful sport.
MC: I think that's a great addition. Also, your past Meet & Greets have also been popular draws for the crowd. This year's outing looks like it will make a big splash again. What will the 2017 Meet & Greet be like?
MCL: There will be a "Meet & Greet Fan Experience," which is on Friday August 11 from 12-4, outside the Palace Ballroom. This year we've asked a few guys to come ready to interact with the attendees far beyond a handshake and a picture. How about doing things like jump rope against a champ? Hit the mitts with a champ, etc? Just a fun twist to the usual Meet & Greet. We've also added some nice vendors to come out and be on hand for you to purchase some of your favorite must-have items! Tickets for the Meet & Greet will be available at the door, they are also available at nvbhof.com for $50. If you purchase a gala ticket you receive a 50% discount on the Meet & Greet so it's only $25 as a combo.
MC: I know you sell out every year. For those who haven't purchased their tickets yet, can they buy tickets at the door?
MCL: Dinner tickets are currently available but limited, I'm predicting a sell out so please don't expect to be able to purchase any Induction Gala tickets at the door. This year we have a full two days of events for the fans enjoy that can be purchased separate if chosen or a person can choose to attend all for events with our first-time ever offered "Super Ticket." The goal is to appeal to everyone and to give them an experience of a lifetime that they won't forget.
MC: And being in Vegas is a natural fit for your Hall of Fame.
MCL: Las Vegas is the Fight Capital of the World and the NVBHOF is here to bring the fans up close and personal with all the wonderful elements of it as we celebrate the sport and the legends within it and offer avenues of growth for the kids wanting to compete.
MC: I know your events will be great. Looking forward to it!
MCL: I can't wait to see you! And thank you in advance for your support.
The Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame is a worthwhile cause I hope you all will support. Join the champs THIS weekend for a full two days of fun. You won't regret it. Through the years, I have great memories of witnessing incredible moments interacting with the boxers, fellow media, the NVBHOF group, and more.
It's historic watching former ring rivals embrace in a hug as they recognize their connection in pugilism; the trash talk and head games between the punchers a thing of the past as they are honored for their achievements.
And the cameras will be flashing with nonstop activity. There will be autographs galore and "selfie" moments that will blow up your Instagram and Facebook feeds! The weekend will bring a frenzy of excitement that only the NVBHOF can bring as the Vegas Strip is like nothing else in the world.
NVBHOF Special Advisor/Social Media Jeff Zimmerman agrees. I connected with the Texas journalist to hear his thoughts on the glamorous and glorious weekend coming up. Jeff works with the Richard Steele Foundation & Boxing Club and is also a director and PR person for Paulie Ayala Productions. The busy Texan says he's really looking forward to the big fiesta in Vegas.
"Our 5th Annual Induction Weekend will be the biggest and best one yet for the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame. Once again there will be some of boxing's greatest fighters inducted including Tommy "Hitman" Hearns, Erik "El Terrible" Morales, the Spinks Bros (Leon and Michael) and "Little Hands of Stone" Michael Carbajal just to name a few.
I look forward to seeing and meeting these great legends and giving the fans a once-in-a-lifetime experience they will never forget Not only are we doing our Meet & Greet with the Champs that will include several of today's and past champions, we are also putting on an amateur boxing show all leading up to our incredible Gala Saturday night at the incredible Caesars Palace–"Home of Champions."
I asked Jeff what he is looking forward to most?
"I can't wait to see Sugar Ray Leonard induct his old rival in the "Hitman" and to see "El Terrible" get inducted by none other than his old bitter rival and current Hall of Famer Marco Antonio Barrera. This is a 'can't miss event,' so buy your tickets today at nvbhof.com and rub elbows with boxing royalty this weekend!"
There will be some many poignant, heartfelt, bittersweet moment that spectators will bear witness to on August 11 and 12.
For me, personally, I recall seeing referee Mills Lane (who suffered a debilitating stroke) receive a standing ovation as he made a rare public appearance in the very first NVBHOF banquet back in 2013. During the last four NVBHOF awards shows, I've also got to bump fists with superstars such as Mike Tyson, Marvin Hagler, Julio Cesar Chavez, Lennox Lewis, Ricardo "Finito" Lopez, Pernell "Sweet Pea" Whitaker, Felix "Tito" Trinidad, and so many more. I got to chop it up with rockstar Vince Neil at one of the NVBHOF pressers, I've joked around with the always amiable Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini, and I also got to break bread among these champions who have sacrificed everything in the ring for our entertainment, risking it all for fame and glory.
Some of my favorite moments have been meeting the families of the fighters. To see the spouses, children and parents of the inductees beam with pride is a magical thing. The families have sacrificed so much too. I remember meeting beloved Mexican warrior Marco Antonio Barrera's kids and seeing how happy they were to be part of the historic weekend. Barrera is a great down-to-earth guy and was a fan favorite the year he was there. And last year I met the parents of Christy "The Coal Miner's Daughter" Martin at Friday's VIP gala. Seeing these humble gladiators in a social setting (in which they are being celebrated and honored) is something I will never forget. It's special moments like these that make this NVBHOF fundraiser one for the ages.
And there's plenty of lighter moments interspersed...and lots of glitz and glamour as well! The dessert served at the awards dinner is always a delicious thing of beauty. It's usually an incredible boxing shaped "work of art" that is almost too pretty to eat! One year it was a chocolate championship belt that had so much detail in it the guests saved it in a box to go; and last year's dessert was a huge edible boxing glove with chocolate NVBHOF emblems. So, of course, everyone's already buzzing to see what the 2017 sweets will be!
As far as the live entertainment in the venue, there's always jaw-dropping walkouts, highlight reels, emotional speeches, surprise guests and more.
Last year, a group of boxing officials had the audience on their feet with their singing and dancing. "The Mighty Sensations" (referees Tony Weeks, Kenny Bayless, Kermit Bayless, Russ Mora and Bobby Hoyle) gave a Motown-worthy concert that took the crowd by surprise.
Come Friday and Saturday there will be many instant classic moments like this for the ticket holders to enjoy at the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame's 5th Annual Induction Weekend. Don't miss out–get your tickets today.
And CONGRATULATIONS to all of the the 2017 honorees!