Iron Mike, Canastota has finally come calling.
As expected, Mike Tyson, Julio Cesar Chavez and Kostya Tszyu were all inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame today. Other boxer inductees include the long-deserving Memphis Pal Moore, Jack Root, Dave Shade and John Gully. Non-boxers inducted include trainer Nacho Beristain, promoter A. F. Bettinson, broadcaster Harry Carpenter, referee Joe Cortez and, in somewhat of a head scratcher, Sylvester Stallone.
In a sport rife with characters, boxing has seen few like Iron Mike Tyson. In the early years, he had created a persona of being almost a mythical unstoppable force. Some opponents were knocked out the second they walked into the ring, before the fight even started. He won his first 37 fights, cleaning out the heavyweight division and garnering wins over Michael Spinks, Larry Holmes, Pinklon Thomas, Trevor Berbick, Bonecrusher Smith and a cast of many others. His first loss, to James "Buster" Douglas is considered to be the biggest upset in the sport's history, and sometimes the biggest upset in the history of sports. After a stint in prison, Tyson came back out to face the top heavyweights who had engrained themselves in the scene during his absence. While he wasn't the same fighter as he was before prison, bouts against Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis, Frank Bruno and even Andrew Golota were massive events, as Tyson continued to be the sport's most popular star. More recently, after a long period of uneven behavior, he has gotten back into good public graces, once again becoming a pop icon.
Julio Cesar Chavez was also a very easy call for the honor. Arguably the greatest fighter in Mexico's boxing-rich history, Chavez was a six-time titlist in three different weight classes. He started his career by winning his first 87 fights, and while not all of the wins were free from controversy, that streak included wins over great fighters such as Edwin Rosario, Greg Haugen, Hector Camacho, Meldrick Taylor, Roger Mayweather and Juan Laporte. Later in his career, he continued to face top fighters, drawing with Pernell Whitaker and losing to Oscar de la Hoya and Kostya Tszyu. Chavez remains tied to the sport, working as a color commentator in Mexico.
The third first-time nominee to make it in was Kostya Tszyu. After an incredible amateur career where he was a world champion, Tszyu moved from mother Russia to Australia, where he almost immediately started facing top opposition. In his storied career, where he reigned as true light welterweight champ for the better part of a half decade, he garnered wins over Julio Cesar Chavez, Sharmba Mitchell, Calvin Grove, Roger Mayweather, Zab Judah and Rafael Ruelas.
Memphis Pal Moore spent most of his career at bantamweight, going 159-52-39, if you count newspaper decisions. While he was never a world titlist, he had thirty fights against former or future titlists, with an overall winning record against those opponents.
Jack Root finished his career at 49-3-5, and is considered by some to be the first light heavyweight world champion. Dave Shade was a welterweight and middleweight in the 1920's who once challenged for the world welterweight title, and has received additional support after the recent discovery of a number of early career bouts. John Gully was a bareknuckle heavyweight champion from early 19th century in England, who is probably more famous for his racehorse stable and for having been a member of Parliament.
Ignacio "Nacho" Beristain has long been, and continues to be, one of Mexico's top trainers and managers. He has worked with over thirty titliists, including Daniel Zaragoza, Finito Lopez, Gilberto Roman, Rodolfo Lopez and more recently, the Marquez brothers and Jorge Arce.
Bettinson formed the National Sport Club, a forbearer of the BBBoC, in 1891, in the process promoting fighters such as Kid Lewis, Jummy Wilde, Barbados Joe Walcott and Georges Carpentier. In addition, he was also a top sports writer of his day.
Harry Carpenter was a longtime sportscaster for the BBC. While he broadcasted in many areas, he was best known for his boxing coverage. Most famously, he covered the U.K. broadcast of the Rumble in the Jungle, and was known for his cordial post-fight interviews with Frank Bruno, who developed his catchphrase "Know what I mean 'Arry?" Carpenter died earlier this year.
Joe Cortez is, well, Joe Cortez. He's refereed over 170 title fights, including Oscar de la Hoya vs. Julio Cesar Chavez, and Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Ricky Hatton. I'd also mention his catchphrase, but he has it trademarked. Love him or hate him. And we'll get more to love or hate this weekend, when he referees Amir Khan vs. Marcos Maidana.
Sylvester Stallone wrote the film Rocky, and played the character Rocky Balboa. For this, he gets a statue on the steps of the Philadelphia library while Joe Frazier lives humbly in his gym, and gets inducted into the boxing hall of fame.