West Coast Boxing Hall of Fame: 2021 Awards!
Exclusive Interview with President/Founder Rick Farris
By Michele Chong
As the pandemic continues to change the way we all work and live, the sport of boxing is slowly coming back to life with live fights (no audience) beginning to air again since June. All large in-person gatherings have been temporarily put on hold though, with many events postponed or canceled.
But the coronavirus has definitely NOT knocked out the West Coast Boxing Hall of Fame's (WCBHOF) annual Banquet of Champions. Never down for the count, the WCBHOF's ceremony will now take place next year.
Founded by Rick Farris and Dan Hanley, their yearly gala was originally slated for October 4, 2020 but due to the COVID-19 shutdown, it had to be rescheduled for March 14, 2021. The Southern California event will now be even more highly anticipated as the countdown to the Class of 2021 inductions starts now.
Not only is there a new date for the event, there is also a brand new location (LOEWS Hollywood) for the awards ceremony. And this boxing bash has already SOLD OUT! The lucky ticket holders will get to witness a pound-for-pound group of inductees including Oscar De La Hoya, Eder Jofre, Ceferino Garcia, Michael Nunn, Gabriel Ruelas, Rafael Ruelas, Johnny Tapia, Adrian Arreola, Sue "Tiger Lilly" Fox, Art Hafey, Richard Steele, Robert Diaz, Roy Englebrecht, Lee Espinoza, Douglass Fischer and Alberto Reyes.
I caught up with former fighter, boxing veteran and noted historian Rick Farris to hear all about his 2021 event. His career has taken him from a young boy in famed boxing gyms (that no longer exist) to the storied Olympic Auditorium to the Hollywood sound stages and exotic locations around the globe while working in the lighting department on movie sets and TV shows.
If you ever get a chance to talk to him, it is like opening up a virtual time capsule into the sweet science. The ex-pugilist provides vivid and colorful recollections of the amazing glory days in the fight game. He was there in person as countless contenders and champions traded leather in some of the most revered arenas in the Southland. He trained with and worked with so many heavy hitters in their prime. Rick is known as one of the most valued historians in the biz and his love for boxing has not waned.
I've been fortunate to have attended all of his WCBHOF banquets since its inception in 2015. Farris' signature style is to present classy, unique, entertaining and memorable events with all the attention going to the chosen inductees. Combining his Tinseltown experience with his boxing knowledge is a one-two punch for these WCBHOF awards ceremonies. His attention to detail and his undying passion to honor the legends is what drives his productions. And even though there are hundreds of spectators in attendance, the WCBHOF festivities feel like a very intimate affair. There are highlight reels, award-winning art, boxing memorabilia on display and legendary heroes sprinkled throughout the room, dining right next to you. Rick and his Board of Directors do a bang-up job making sure all goes well.
In our exclusive chat, listen as Rick describes what being ringside was like in earlier decades, why he wants to pay tribute to the kings of the sport, and which superstar guests will be in attendance!
Hi Rick, tell me about your original event and how the pandemic has altered everyone’s plans?
Michele, I began planning this about a year before our last event in 2018. It was going to be held in the Fall of 2019, in a new venue, the LOEWS Hollywood Hotel which is in the heart of Hollywood, Highland Avenue at Hollywood Blvd. The LOEWS Hotel owns the Dolby Theatre, which is next door and the home of the annual Academy Awards.
Congratulations to all of the new Inductees and I hope everyone stays safe and healthy till we meet again!
Photos by Michele Chong/Flier courtesy of Rick Farris