Barbara and I just returned from the 2006 World Boxing Hall of Fame Induction activities. It was a bit different this year being that it was held at the Los Angeles Airport Marriot Hotel. This year they did not have the stage with all the champions seated in rows where everyone could see us and we could see our families, friends and all the fans. Instead, we were all seated at a very long one row banquet table on the floor with everyone else.
To begin with I arrived in time to participate in the 10:00am to 3:00pm autograph signing. It was open to the public and I think I signed a thousand autographs(LOL), at least it seemed like it. My fingers were cramping up and I lost 3 of my autograph pens in the first 15 minutes. Before long here comes Rick Farris and his friend and special movie cameraman, Greg Patterson to greet me. I was very honored to meet Greg as he is one of the top camera men in Hollywood. Rick and Greg are doing a feature DVD on me and this was an opportunity for them to film me while I was signing autographs and talking to the fans. Rick and Greg had just come from having breakfast with Dan Hanley and his father and they had discussed ideas on promoting me for Canastota. While they were in the restuarant busy with their strategy session, guess what happened.....?????
Here comes the hostess to seat two people at the table next to them. And these two people where none other than Mando Ramos and his wife, Sivia. Mando sat facing Rick, so here we have two challengers face to face---mano a mano.(LOL). I heard this second hand as I was not there, but maybe Dan Hanley can fill in all the blanks for us. Barbara and I had breakfast with Dan and his father this morning before they left for the airport so they should be back home in Chicago by now.
As for the induction, the inductees were Matthew Saad Muhammad from Philadelpia, Julian Jackson from the Vigin Islands, Eddie Perkins from Mississippi, and Roberto Duran from Panama. They all gave very nice acceptance speaches, but Duran stole the show. He gave credit to God and the American people for his success. He was so swamped afterwards that we only had a chance to hug each other, no time to talk. We visited with so many fans, friends and special people including Ryan O'Neill and Frank Stallone, also Carlos Ortiz and his wife, Maria from New York who we got to know well in Cancun, also Cleto Reyes who is the owner of Reyes Boxing Equipment from Mexico City who treated us so well on our trip to Cancun. Mantequilla Napoles and his wife from Mexico and Jesus Pimental and his wife, Mando Ramos, Kenny Norton and so many others. I could go on and on naming others who are regular attenders. It seems it has become one big family having a reunion every year. I hope this tradition goes on forever.