|The Cyber Boxing Zone Newswire|
08/21/2006 Archived Entry: "California Boxing Hall of Fame Induction Luncheon"
California Boxing Hall of Fame Induction Luncheon
By Greg Beyer
Former boxing great Bobby Chacon (left) and highly acclaimed trainer, Freddie Roach, smile for the camera
For me, boxing is the highest form of athletic endeavor. Former professional boxer Frankie Baltazar told me at the California boxing hall of fame luncheon this weekend that, just like me being in little league or any other kid being in soccer, that boxing was just the sport that he took up. He was raised in it and to him it seemed natural. A statement of that kind helps me realize why I have idolized fighters for so many years.
In a baseball game, in football, basketball, sometimes athletes are injured. In boxing it is a guarantee. These fighters that enter a ring to do combat, to put their courage and fighting hearts on display to an arena filled with fans are in essence the most amazing of all athletes. We watch them, we cheer them on while they are still young enough and able enough to compete in this violent sport and then to most of us they disappear. For me, since they were all heroes of mine, I wondered about them after they have left the arena for good. Are they okay? Do they have regrets? Has life awarded them in any way for the fact that they had the guts to put it all on the line for a bit of glory, for meager pay and the endless suffering they endured just to be able to compete in a sport so few would ever consider entering into.
This past Saturday at the Sportsmen’s Lodge in Studio City, California, a selected group of these courageous souls were honored for their achievements in the world of professional boxing in the state of California.
Honorees this year in the boxing category included the following:
Frankie Baltazar Jr.
Meeting the Baltazar brothers along with their father, trainer, manager and CBZ stalwart Frank Baltazar, Sr. was a special treat for CBZ editor Stephen (“The Bucket”) Gordon and myself. We flew down from Washington State to finally get a chance to meet and honor the entire Baltazar family on their well-deserved day of glory. I have to say here how impressed I was with the beauty and graciousness of Frankie and Tony as well as their entire family. Seated a few tables away form us, they made a special effort to come over and speak to "The Bucket" and I and we appreciated their courtesy and good-natured conversation immensely.
In the non-boxer category another CBZ regular being inducted into the hall was none other than the venerable former Hollywood legion stadium matchmaker Gabriel "Hap" Navarro. Pictured in the program was "Hap" in a circa 1950s photo showing a dashing young Hispanic in the mold of a Rudolf Valentino. While this stunning photo lit up that page of the program I suddenly realized it would make it hard for us to search out "Hap" in the crowd before the ceremony began. This dilemma was alleviated when none other than another of my life long idols Rodolfo "El Gato" Gonzalez came up to us and said "Hap wants to meet you guys" and took us to his table where "Hap", eyes tearing up, said how proud he was to finally meet us and how glad he was that we made the trip down. My heart swelled when he asked how long it had been since I had left my hometown of San Pedro, California. How wonderful that he remembered where I was born. What a day!
Former boxing promoter Don Fraser who sponsored this event put on an excellent show, which was evidenced by the huge crowd, filled with many respected and formerly honored boxing greats. Among them was my personal all-time favorite, Danny "Little Red" Lopez, and his lovely wife and life-long friend Bonnie. What a joy it was to be able to tell Danny that I followed his entire career and how glad I was to see that Danny, after all those wars, is still the same fine gentleman that I saw stepping into the ring to face Steve Frajole at the Olympic auditorium in his very first pro fight so many years ago.
What a particular joy it was for "The Bucket" and I to be able to hug and shake hands with our own Rodolfo "el Gato " Gonzalez and his wonderful Barbara. For them to be so glad to meet us was a heart rendering experience I will never forget.
These great fighters and wonderful people I met Saturday. They are well. They survived. What a beautiful day it was to see that so many of my heroes made it through that tough arena and that "the Bucket" and I were there to share this special day with them.
I got back to Washington early Sunday morning with memories confirming what I have always known...my heroes have always been fighters.
From left to right: Stephen "The Bucket" Gordon, Frank Baltazar, and Greg Beyer