In the 14 months since Rich Marotta conceived the concept of a Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame, much has taken place.
Tonight, the inaugural class of 19, headed by boxers Mike Tyson, Sugar Ray Leonard, Oscar De La Hoya, Larry Holmes, Mike McCallum and Diego Corrales, will be enshrined at the Monte Carlo. And Marotta, the founder and president, finally will be able to sigh with relief.
“It’s been a long, tough slog,” said Marotta, a longtime boxing TV analyst and radio talk-show host. “It’s an enormous project, and I was a little naive about the complexities of it and also putting on an event like this. I mean, who would have thought I would have to make a call on what kind of tablecloths to use for the banquet?”
Seventeen inductees are expected to attend tonight’s ceremony, with only De La Hoya and special contributor Kirk Kerkorian expected to miss it. The widows of Diego Corrales and Eddie Futch plan to attend.
Tyson said he was thrilled to be included in the inaugural class.
“It’s an extraordinary feeling to be recognized for my accomplishments by the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame,” he said in a statement. “It’s very nostalgic at this stage of my life to look back with dignity on my career and how much the state of Nevada has contributed to my legacy.”
There are eight categories for enshrinement — Nevada boxer, non-Nevada boxer, trainer, official, promoter, media, executive and special contributor. Marotta said he wanted the Hall to be all-encompassing and recognize everyone who has contributed to the sport in the state.
“Nineteen seems like a large number,” he said. “But there are so many people who have meant so much to boxing in Nevada, we wanted to include as many as we could.”
Marotta said it took convincing to lure some of the inductees to the event.
“We had to sell some of them on the idea and how much they meant to Nevada,” he said. “When they saw it in that light, they got on board.”
Former rival promoters Bob Arum and Don King will share the dias together, which could make for an interesting night.
“I hope everyone will enjoy themselves and check their egos at the door,” Marotta said. “We want this to be a fun evening.”
The Hall is a nonprofit organization. Part of the proceeds from the event, which is sold out, will benefit several groups, including the boxing clubs at UNLV and UNR.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.