ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (CBS) — There was a time, not too long ago, that Atlantic City, New Jersey, was a thriving boxing town. The city had its collective claws in almost every major fight that took place, and featured some of the best that ever fought, like Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield and Arturo Gatti, just to name a few.
On Sunday, the city's rich history was honored with the induction of 24 influential fight people for the inaugural class of the Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame, before over 500 people at the Claridge Hotel's Conference Center.
Everyone from Tyson to Don King was honored. None of it would have happened without the significant push from Ray McCline, the founder of the Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame. McCline, with the help of PR guru Marc Abrams, ran a smooth program without any glitches.
"This is a labor of love," McCline said. "There a lot of moving pieces that you have to put together with something this big. This is something that I chose to do, and take on, and it's really exceeded my expectations. Marc was a big help to us, and our whole team worked really together to make this happen.
"The biggest challenge we had was having people recognize us as something legitimate. Our motto is different than the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame and we have a very good relationship with them. Atlantic City is a great city for boxing. It has a great history and it's a history that should be honored. That's our intention here. The ultimate goal is open a physical hall of fame here at the Claridge and have a physical structure. We have the space already selected to house memorabilia, and we want to honor everyone, in the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame and Pennsylvania Boxing Hall of Fame."
In a room full of tough, rugged men, it was a little 11-year-old girl that actually stole everyone's hearts. Sofia Gatti, the daughter of the late Arturo Gatti, made a brief speech about her dad and the impact he still has on her life that melted the jammed room.
Of course, King topped off the evening.
"I'm honored by this," said King, who will be 86 in August and still remarkable alert and keen. "There were so many memorable moments I've had in Atlantic City, and many of the things I did were great. But you know what, the most memorable moment for me in Atlantic City wasn't a fight. It was the time when Arthur Goldberg, God rest his soul, when he had Bally's and all of these other casinos here in Atlantic City.
"He and I were giving turkeys to the underprivileged, to the downtrodden, the needy, and the denied. You have to love what you see in the mirror. I started at the top and I never left. I stand up for you the people. Donald Trump is bringing is all out. Like him or not like him, he brings the truth to the floor. I want to thank everyone for coming out, and this is an opportunity for everyone to have confidence in themselves."
Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame Inductees
Fighter (Resident and Non-Resident)
Matthew Saad Muhammad
Dwight Muhammad Qawi
Trainer & Cutman (Resident and Non-Resident)
Mike Hall Sr.
Non-Participants Promoter, Manager, Advisor, Matchmaker & Ring Announcer
J Russell Peltz
Officials (Commission, Judges, Doctors & Referees)
Larry Hazzard Sr.
Dr. Frank Doggett
Media (Writer, Historian, Photographer, Artist & Digital Technology)
Special Contributors, Executives, T.V. Networks, Government Officials Boxing Organizations
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