First it was Sandy's wrath, and then Nemo left a calling card on the Tri-State Area, but Ring 8's awards gala could not be kept on the canvas. The event, which unfolded Sunday afternoon at Russo's on the Bay in Howard Beach, Queens, was originally set for Dec. 18, but Sandy impacted Russo's, so the event was shifted to February.
Ring 8, a veterans boxers association formed in 1954 which holds as its motto "Boxers Helping Boxers," puts on an annual bash and gives out awards to spotlight NY-area fighters and fight game people. An out-of-area bigwig will sometimes be flown in to make a splash, and this time around, future Hall of Famer Joe Calzaghe, an ex-cruiserweight champion, was all set to hop on plane and receive a Fighter of the Decade award.
And then Nemo showed up, dumping loads of snow on the region, and forcing the closing of JFK Airport. Ring 8 president Bob Duffy worked the phones, trying to find alternative flights, but Calzaghe had a TV appearance set up for Tuesday morning, and it just wasn't doable.
The show went on, though, and close to 400 people did show up. Duffy wasn't sure if his Fighter of the Year, Peter Quillin, was going to make it, but Kid Chocolate made a dramatic entrance and went to the dais to get his bauble. The WBO middleweight champion grew up in a humbling home environment and tasted homelessness as a teen after coming to New York to make his mark, so it was positive to hear another story of boxing doing some good, providing a platform for an at-risk youth to focus on a goal and be a productive role model.
I was fortunate enough to be named Writer of the Year and am not too cool to admit that I have looked at the award about 20 times since I received it, and smiled each time, out of pride. My wife, Jessica, said my speech was good, which I was happy about, considering I spoke soon after "Jersey Shore" alum Snooki, who is doing boxing promotion along with her father, Andy Polizzi.
My wife also liked that other awards winners -- like David Sears, Bob McGuire, Pat Russo, Dave Seip, Eddie Claudio, John Signorile, Ron McNair, Frankie Russo Jr., Floriano Pagliara, Adam Willet and Bobby Czyz -- kept speech short and sweet.
Thanks to Ring 8 for the award, and keeping the memories of some of the stellar fighters from decades past alive.