Words by Raymundo Dioses
The front of the historic Claridge Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey, set alongside the beautiful backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean at Brighton Park, will be the setting for the inaugural Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame event on Memorial Day weekend in May 2017.
Inductees include Mike Tyson, Larry Holmes, Michael Spinks, the late Arturo Gatti and other former greats in what has been an operation years in the making that is finally unfolding later this year. Non-participant entrants include promoter Don King and referee Steve Smoger.
The ACBHOF is the brainchild of President Ray McCline, who is ambitious in his endeavor to host not just your average black tie, eat-while-champions-speak event, but an entertaining, interactive weekend of festivities to set apart Atlantic City from other Hall of Fame dinners and hopefully restore the state of A.C. boxing back to its glory years.
ACBHOF President & Founder Ray McCline
McCline, a longtime co-trainer of five-time former light heavyweight and cruiserweight champion Virgil Hill, was with his fighter when Hill was inducted into the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame in 2010. McCline later attended another banquet style boxing event, the All-Star Boxing Gala; from there, a plan was conceived.
“I looked around and told myself, why isn’t this happening in Atlantic City? Some of the greatest fights in boxing history took place in A.C.”
McCline decided to launch the ACBHOF in 2011, acquired a few business partners and in June 2014 officially registered the Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame. Confident that he could make his business model work, McCline took his time creating an infrastructure consisting of associates who have good business instincts, including Vice President Strategist and Business Development Rodrick Green, and senior VP Roy Foreman, brother of former heavyweight champion George Foreman
In advisory roles, famed music producer Rodney ‘Darkchild’ Jerkins (Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey), and Greg Posella, who himself heads HARD Beverages, a lifestyle beverage company, will be working with McCline in coordinating the weekends many events. Angela Crockett of Angela Crockett Enterprises is working as the Director of Communications for the event.
McCline with Don King
‘DOUBLE JAB’ PODCAST TO FEATURE ACBHOF INDUCTEES
Also promoting this years’ ACBHOF is the podcast ‘Double Jab’, an online boxing talk vehicle hosted by Rich Quinones (ESPN affiliate) and Rob Scott (IBF official, A.C. Weekly contributor) that will be interviewing the inductees as well as talking shop on boxing’s weekly boxing news and exclusive Tri-State area fight scene happenings.
The first podcast featured inductees Michael Spinks and referee Steve Smoger. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zP_HJmaQSP8&feature=youtu.be)
The show is streamed live every Wednesday from 7:00-8:00 PM, with the latest episodes available for viewing posted on Triax5.com.
The latest episode featured former light heavyweight/cruiserweight champion and Atlantic City resident, Dwight Muhammad Qawi.
MEET AND GREET, FAN INTERACTIVE EVENTS, JACK JOHNSON PORTRAYAL
The opening day of the first ACBHOF event will be showcase an intimate VIP meet and greet rooftop cocktail reception featuring the weekend’s inductees and affiliated sponsors. There are other aspects of this night in the works for this event.
Saturday will see the ‘Ultimate Fight Fan Experience’, an exciting interactive event where those in attendance as well as the general public have the opportunity to commentate legendary fights in front of a green screen.
Vendors will have merchandise available for purchase and autograph sessions will be held.
On hand will be an artist creating an art piece directly onto a heavy-bag and a special ‘Jack Johnson Exhibit’ will see a live portrayal by the actor who will play the former heavyweight champion in an upcoming biopic.
That evening there is a planned red carpet event party in what McCline hopes will buck the traditional banquet style event into more of a fun, party/celebration atmosphere type of experience and layout.
Induction day will see the fighters receive their various awards that will include varsity-style inscribed jackets, plaques and possibly ACBHOF engraved rings.
Also commending the fighters will be A.C. mayor Don Guardian, who will present each inductee with a Key to the City.
McCline with George Foreman
MC CLINE’S VISION
The famous Atlantic City boardwalk has hosted fights since the sports inception over one hundred years ago, with known mobsters like Al Capone and Frank White frequenting the area to watch a night of fisticuffs in the early 1900’s.
The Monopoly named streets like Park Place (where the Claridge, now owned by TMJ Properties, is located) and Boardwalk are rich with boxing history, reaching an apex in the 1980’s that has yet to be replicated since.
McCline is hoping to bring the ACBHOF to the East Coast shores every Memorial Day weekend in what he hopes to become a resurgence of boxing in A.C. and in the Tri-State area.
“Atlantic City is going through a change and is re-calibrating itself. The goal is to tell the history of Atlantic City’s history through the lens of boxing, and we want to be a part of Atlantic City’s new history.”
The Inaugural Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame Ceremonies kick off Memorial Day Weekend in May 2017.
Thanks from Ray McCline go out to New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame President Henry Hascup, New Jersey Boxing Commissioner Larry Hazzard Sr., Joe Pasquale, Steve Smoger, Melvina Lathan, Aaron Snowell, Greg Posella and Rodney Jerkins for the assistance throughout the process of creating the ACBHOF.
For more info: Twitter.com/ACBHOF; Facebook.com/ACBHOF