The choice for grand marshal of this year's International Boxing Hall of Fame parade will draw some surprised stares from non-hardcore boxing fans.
But the boxing heads in Canastota, N.Y., to check out the Sunday parade, which kicks off at 1 p.m., will not be thrown off when they see Brooklyn-bred actress/activist Rosie Perez smiling and waving to those who have come to see fighters Arturo Gatti, Virgil Hill, referee Mills Lane and a host of other luminaries enshrined.
Perez is a constant Twitter presence, enthusiastically commenting on fights -- and not just the super fights, either. She follows the doings in the sweet science rather obsessively. The respect and admiration she shows for the game and its participants has won her new fans, who are appreciative of any positive voices that aren't inclined to critique the sport and point out its diminished place in the wide world of sports since the 1970s. Perez also attends fights, particularly in the New York area, when her work schedule permits.
"I'm the grand marshal," she told ESPNNewYork.com, when asked about her role in Canastota. "I'm very honored. I can't wait to meet all the boxers that I've watched and admired for so long."
Is she looking forward to shaking hands with any particular enshrinees or boldfaced names who are attending the 24th gala?
"I'm looking forward to meeting them all," she said.
Asked if any particular bout flipped a switch in her brain and rendered her addicted to the sport, she said, "I don't remember any particular fight. It was just a thing we did, we watched boxing."