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Eight Inducted Into the International Women's Boxing Hall of Fame
by Bernie McCoy
July 16, 2015
Photos: Eddie Khoriaty,
Danielle Khoriaty, Abby Rosenberg
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(JULY 16)  The sport of Women's boxing put it's ceremonial best foot forward on July 11 with the second annual induction ceremony of the sport's Hall of Fame. The ceremony, attended by a sell-out crowd of athletes, boxing officials and fans, was held at the Hyatt Regency Pier Sixty Six in Fort Lauderdale, FL and coincided with the nearby National Women's Golden Gloves tournament.

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Ali led a group of six "modern era" boxers inducted into the IWBHF including three international fighters: Deirdre Gogarty of Ireland, Laura Serrano of Mexico and Jeannine Garside of Canada along with two American boxers, Terri Moss and Ann Wolfe. Rounding out the group of Year Two inductees were Sparkle Lee, the first female licensed to referee professional boxing bouts in New York and New Jersey and Phyllis Kugler (posthumous), a pioneer boxer in the 1950s.

The first annual "Lifetime Achievement Award" was presented, posthumously, to Jose Sulaiman, President of the World Boxing Council for nearly four decades, who passed away in 2014, in recognition of "his contributions to the sport and for establishing the WBC title belt as the highest prize for female boxers world wide." Additionally, "Recognition of Excellence" awards, acknowledging special contributions to the sport of boxing, were made to Dr. Martha A. Dodson, trainer, physician and coach in the sport and a major force in gaining participation for Women's boxing in the 2012 Olympics and Alvin E. Simpson, a 24 year Army veteran and longtime coach of the Fort Bragg boxing team who, upon retirement from the service, continues to be active in the sport in North Carolina.

Each inductee was presented a personalized plaque by Sue Fox, founder of WBAN, the "Internet site of record" for Women's boxing and the President of the IWBHF. Highlights of the acceptance remarks included Laila Ali's views on her life as an undefeated professional boxer, as an off-spring of possibly the most famous athlete in the sport and her current life as a wife, mother, TV personality and entrepreneur; Laura Serrano's recitation on what it took to achieve her goal of becoming a professional fighter in Mexico where, at the time, females were not allowed to participate and her feelings about her first professional fight in which she was matched with the, then, "face" of the sport, Christy Martin; Sparkle Lee's moving memory of the part her Christian faith played in overcoming the obstacles that were thrust in her career path for two decades as she attempted to become what she is today, a highly respected boxing referee and the group of family members of the late Phyllis Kugler, numbering over two dozen, one of whom came to the stage wearing the late fighter's ring robe. A group that traveled from Indiana to south Florida to honor Kugler and accept her plaque.

The International Women's Boxing Hall of Fame ceremony was an event that both honored elite athletes who have achieved excellence in a sport in which, in the not too distant past, those athlete's accomplishments would have consigned to the stuff of impossible dreams and, at the same time, it was a celebration of that sport as it continues, to this day, to seek it's rightful place in the crowded sports landscape of the twenty-first century.
 

 

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