Quotes and photos: New York State Boxing Hall of Fame induction ceremony

Peter Frutkoff

Junior Jones, Iran Barkley, and Tony Graziano were among those inducted into the New York State Boxing Hall of Fame this year.


Junior Jones: "There are a lot of great fighters up here. This is a great event recognizing New Yorkers. I want to thank all of the people who were part of my team."


Iran Barkley: "Teddy Brenner basically asked me, 'You think you can fight.' I told him I was going to be champion of the world and he said, 'You're never going to be champion.' You don't know how mad he made me that day and I then beat everybody he put in against me.

"When I fought (Thomas) Hearns, nobody thought I could beat him, but I wasn't afraid. I'm a Bronx guy and I was used to getting hits by bricks and bats. I won with blood, sweat and tears. I said to get ready to pick him up and carry him out."


Tony Graziano: "It's an honor being here with all these greats and in the New York Hall of Fame."


Bobby Cassidy: "I truly appreciate and I'm honored to be standing here today. I started boxing in 1963. Teddy Brenner said I was a million-to-one shot but his long-shot paid off. Like a lot of guys, boxing saved me. It was go in the ring or go to jail. Everything I have is through boxing. I was sent all over the world. I was a fighter; just tell me where to show up. I never turned down a fight. I fought six opponents who fought for the title and beat four of them. All I ever wanted was to fight for the title. I never fought for the title and that really hurt me more than anything and I had 80 pro fights and 500 stitches. I'm a fighter and always will be. Standing up here makes up for never getting a title shot. I'm truly honored."


Mark Breland: "It's good to be here with all these guys. I've always looked up to, and I don't know if he knows it, Tony Santana. I sparred with Eddie Mustafa Muhammad. It's an honor to be here and accept this award. I had a lot of fights. I enjoy boxing; it's a lot of fun. All my years in boxing, I always had a great manager, Shelly Finkel. He's family."


Shelly Finkel: Anyone in the sport knows there are two families - one at home and the fighters. Somebody once asked me, when all is said and done, how do I want to be remembered? That I cared about my fighters. There have been so many incredible moments in the ring. I've had the greatest career with my fighters on the ring but, after the fighting, that I could help my fighters."


James "Buddy" McGirt: "This group of fighters up here, you don't understand, it'll be 100 years before you'd find a group of fighters like this. In 1987, Iran Barkley took to training camp. He didn't need to do that and I was just another expense. But it helped me become world champion. In 1989, Eddie Mustafa Muhammad came to gym in Las Vegas everyday for five weeks to watch me train. As a fighter there are certain things you never forget. On November 29th, 1991, Eddie yelled my name and gave me a thumbs-up. It was the greatest night of my career. Everybody was yelling and what I remember was Eddie yelling, 'McGirt.'"


Eddie Mustafa Muhammad: "This is special to me. I am very appreciative and humbled to put me in the New York Hall of Fame with all these terrific fighters. But, if you invite me again to another festive occasion like this, please (jokingly) don't sit me between McGirt and Breland. They're friends of mine, like family. Iran and I won many titles together. I told him that, if he listened to me, he'd be a three-time world champion. He looked at me like I was crazy. I blew it....he became four-time world champion.

"Now, I have my newest world champion, Ishe Smith, and Chad Dawson. I thank God for allowing me to transfer any skills, what I learned from my former trainers, to my students. I've had 18 world champions in a young career. After I retired, I didn't know what to do, and Bob Arum said I could train because he knew I was working with Mike McCallum, who became world champion. I brought Floyd Mayweather his first world champion (Smith). I'm a part of the 'Money Team' and thank him for having the trust in me to train some of his young fighters.

"This is like winning a world championship. I love this!"

All photos by Peter Frutkoff

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