By Randy De La O
My good friend Rene Ramirez, former fighter and an “Ambassador of Good Will” for boxing received his induction for all his hard work on behalf of the greatest sport in the world. A well deserved honor for him and a source of pride for his family. It was an honor to share the day with him!
My wife Jeri and I had a great time. It was a bit of a walk back through time for me. One of the inductees, Zefferino “Speedy” Gonzalez, was a classmate of mine from El Rancho High School in Pico Rivera, California (actually one grade below me). On top of all his other accomplishments in boxing, Zeffie is best remembered by boxing fans for his 1979 fight with the legendary Roberto Duran, giving Duran all he could handle, before losing a hard fought decision.
Renato Garcia, a junior middleweight and middle weight contender of the 1970's was also inducted Saturday. More than he can ever know, Renato was a huge part of my young boxing life and a large part of my memories of the long gone Main Street Gym. He was a humble, stoic and quiet fighter when I knew him 40 plus years ago and he remains so today. I had the honor of sparring many, many times with Renato. It was an honor to be there with him as he received this honor.
Another fighter from the old Main Street Gym days, featherweight, Francisco Flores received his induction as well.
All the speeches were great and heartfelt but the speech of the night, if not the year, belonged to Carlos Famoso Hernandez who gave an emotionally charged tribute to his wife and family, as well as one of his school teachers, and to all those that helped him along the way. I hope someone recorded it.
I have to fall back on that old and often over used cliche “This is what it's all about!” I say that because it's true. For a fighter, or any athlete to receive accolades for something that is so dear to him, especially when it comes decades later when it is all a long ago memory and perhaps just stories being told to grandchildren with that far away look in his (or her) eyes. To be able to reach back one more time and share it with the people that you love, and those that love you, well, “This is what it's all about!”
Boxing, like all sports has its ups and downs, it has its fair share of controversy and sometimes it even shows its dark side but everything that is good about boxing, everything that defines fair play, sportsmanship, heart, justifiable pride, determination and hard work, family, success and sometimes, failure and heart break, could be found within the confines of the Empire Room at the Sportsmen's Lodge in Studio City. It was my honor to be there with you!