Thanks to the big fights that have taken place in Las Vegas for many years, not to mention the regular smaller shows there, Nevada is the highest-profile state for boxing in America, and now it has its own boxing hall of fame.
Rich Marotta, the top-notch broadcaster and my longtime pal, has founded the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame, which this week announced its inaugural class of inductees at the Richard Steele Boxing Club in North Las Vegas.
"States such as California, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and, most recently, New York, have their own boxing halls of fame," Marotta said. "I was astounded to learn that Nevada, with its rich boxing history, passionate fan base and the reputation as the boxing capital of the world, did not have its own hall of fame -- a place to honor those who helped build its rich history in the sport.
"So we set out last summer to establish the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame as a non-profit, charitable organization to give back to the sport and its fans. In addition to an annual gala induction ceremony and dinner, the NVBHOF will conduct other fundraising events throughout the year to stay active within the state."
Details of the induction ceremony in 2013 haven't been released yet, but voting for the class was conducted by the Hall of Fame's officers and board of directors. It is a who's who of boxing royalty.
In the "Nevada resident boxer" category, former heavyweight champ Mike Tyson, who lived in Las Vegas for years and had many of his biggest fights there, is joined by former middleweight and light heavyweight champion Mike McCallum and the late junior lightweight and lightweight champion Diego "Chico" Corrales.
The "non-Nevada resident boxer" category includes former three-division champ Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., former heavyweight champ Larry Holmes, former six-division titleholder Oscar De La Hoya and former five-division champ Sugar Ray Leonard.
Two trainers were also elected, the late, great Eddie Futch and his protégé, Freddie Roach, one of the top trainers in the sport today. Two of Nevada's best-ever officials were also elected -- former referees Mills Lane and Joe Cortez, who recently retired.
In the media category, Las Vegas residents Al Bernstein, the outstanding longtime broadcaster, and writer Royce Feour, who covered boxing for the Las Vegas Review-Journal for 37 years, were elected.
Bob Arum, who lives in Las Vegas, and Don King, two of boxing's most visible promoters, who both have put on numerous major cards in Nevada, were also elected.
Executives elected include Marc Ratner, the well-liked executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission from 1992 to 2006, and James Nave, a commissioner from 1988 to 1999, who was a fierce advocate for fighter health and safety.
Also added to the inaugural class as "special contributors" are Sig Rogich -- who served on the commission from 1974 to 1986, including several stints as chairman, and was also an adviser to Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush -- and Kirk Kerkorian, a one-time amateur boxer who helped bring big-time boxing to Nevada as the longtime head of the MGM Grand, which has hosted many of the biggest fights in boxing history.
According to Marotta, the NVBHOF will be "dedicated to honoring boxers and those who have contributed significantly to the sport in Nevada. The other equally important part of the Hall's mission will be to help those from the sport of boxing in need of financial assistance, as well as to help other boxing-related organizations which do the same. It will also support youth and amateur boxing programs, including the club boxing programs at the University of Nevada, Reno and UNLV."