Bowe, Mancini head Boxing Hall of Fame's class of 2015

Bowe, Mancini head Boxing Hall of Fame's class of 2015

Published Jun. 15, 2015 7:37 a.m. ET

CANASTOTA, N.Y. -- Riddick Bowe didn't know what to say. Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini had no such problem.

Humbled by the moment, the two former champions were inducted Sunday into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

"I got my ring. I'm so happy," said Bowe, who beat undisputed champion Evander Holyfield to win the heavyweight boxing title in 1992. "I'm finally in, and guess what, I don't know what to say."

A 6-foot-5, 235-pounder, Bowe won his first 31 fights to get a shot at the title, knocking out all but two of his opponents. He fought only 10 times after beating Holyfield in the first of their three memorable bouts and won nine of them. But it was evident his career was declining when he had to get up off the canvas to stop Holyfield in their final meeting.


Bowe retired in December 1996 with a 43-1 (33 KOs) pro record after taking a second straight beating from Andrew Golota, although he won both fights because Golota hit him with low blows.

Bowe acknowledged his family for much of his success and saved his biggest accolade for his idol.

"I want to thank Muhammad Ali because if it wasn't for him I wouldn't be here," Bowe said. "I dared to dream."

Mancini, the pride of Youngstown, Ohio, followed his father, Lenny, into boxing and turned pro in 1979. He captured the NABF lightweight title in 1981 from Jorge Morales and in 1982 scored a first-round knockout of Arturo Frias to win the WBA lightweight title.

"This ain't bad for a kid from the south side of Youngstown, Ohio," Mancini said. "Everything I am, everything I've ever been and everything I ever will be, it's because of my family and Youngstown, Ohio. I am a product of my city. I love my city. I love my people. Those people are the reason I am who I am today, there's no doubt."

Mancini said he, too, dared to dream, mainly because of the impact of his parents.

"My mother and father, they made me believe I could be anything I wanted to be -- the only restrictions you have are the ones you put on yourself," Mancini said. "I accept this award today on behalf of my father and my mother."

Mancini also thanked his late brother -- "He helped me become that guy. Every fight, he was the first one to jump in and give me a hug" -- and his sister and wife, Tina.

"I'll hold it for a while. Tomorrow this will be theirs," Mancini said, looking at his two sons. "I want it to be a reminder to them to dream big, chase those dreams and realize that those dreams can come true. I'm living proof of that."

Though his career was brief, the popular Mancini had a profound impact. In November 1982, he defended his title against 23-year-challenger Duk Koo Kim of South Korea at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas in an outdoor bout televised live by CBS. Mancini scored a knockout in the 14th round, but Kim suffered brain injuries that led to his death four days later.

The WBA immediately shortened its title fights to 12 rounds and by 1990 all sanctioning organizations had followed suit. But Kim's death had a negative impact on the sport's popularity.

Also inducted were featherweight champion "Prince" Naseem Hamed of England, light flyweight champion Yoko Gushiken of Japan, manager Rafael Mendoza of Mexico, referee Steve Smoger of Norfolk, Virginia, journalist Nigel Collins of England, and broadcaster Jim Lampley of Asheville, North Carolina.

Lampley served as announcer for over 40 boxing matches on ABC's Wide World of Sports and has been calling boxing for HBO since March 1988.

"Boxing is a canvas on which an endless stream of artists paint indelible images," Lampley said. "I get the privilege of knowing them and attempting to describe what they do."

Posthumous honorees include Japanese flyweight Masao Ohba, middleweight Ken Overlin of Decatur, Illinois, and publicist John F.X. Condon of New York City.

Inductees were selected by the Boxing Writers Association and a panel of international boxing historians.

Jake LaMotta, who turns 94 next month, was among many Hall of Famers in attendance.