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A knockout class
That was one of the more famous lines from the “Rocky” movie series that not only made Sylvester Stallone what he is today, but also captured boxing’s heart for decades.
On Tuesday, Stallone was rewarded. He, in fact, “did it!”
The actor, who penned the script about an underdog boxer from Philadelphia named Rocky Balboa, was named — along with Iron Mike Tyson and Julio Cesar Chavez, among others — to the 12-member 2011 class for induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame and Museum.
“Rocky” was released in 1976, and was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, winning best picture, best director and best film editing.
“It has been my privilege to have been blessed with the ability to write about the incredible courage and commitment of the many thousands of real-life Rockys whom we have watched perform honorably in the ring,” Stallone said in a statement.
Stallone also wrote five other movies based on the Rocky Balboa character and in 2006, was awarded the Boxing Writers Association of America award for “Lifetime Cinematic Achievement in Boxing.”
“The two things that brought boxing back to the forefront with the public was the great success of the 1976 Olympic team and when Sylvester Stallone gave us our heavyweight championâ€”Rocky Balboa,” Hall of Famer Emanuel Steward said. “I still get goosebumps when I hear the Rocky theme.”
While Stallone delivered goosebumps, Tyson delivered plain, old bumps (and bruises) during his career.
The self-proclaimed “baddest man on the planet” won his first 19 professional bouts by knockout, 12 in the first round. On the November 1986 night that he knocked out WBC champion Trevor Berbick for a piece of the heavyweight title, a man who had watched Tyson learn the sweet science in Cus D’Amato’s gym in Catskill, N.Y. said he figured Tyson would end up in an electric chair one day.
“I am honored,” Tyson said. “The sport of boxing has given me so much, and it is truly a blessing to be acknowledged alongside other historical boxing legends because they paved the way for me, as I hope I have inspired others in this great sport.”
Tyson electrified boxing with his devastating punching power and crude off-the-cuff remarks. When he beat journeyman Jesse Ferguson in his first nationally televised fight after a stunning uppercut sent blood spattering into the ringside seats at Houston Field House in Troy, N.Y., Tyson said, after the bout was stopped in the sixth round, that he tried “to push the bone into the brain.”
Tyson won the WBA title with a 12-round decision over James Smith in 1987 and unified the titles later in the year with a 12-round victory over IBF champion Tony Tucker. Tyson defended the unified titles in victories over Larry Holmes, Tony Tubbs, Frank Bruno and Carl Williams, then stopped Michael Spinks in 91 seconds to earn universal recognition as champion in 1988.
Both cocky and shy with the lispy voice of a little boy, Tyson’s time at the top was fleeting. He suffered a stunning 10th-round knockout loss to James “Buster” Douglas on Feb. 11, 1990, in Tokyo. After rebounding with four victories, a proposed title fight in 1991 with Evander Holyfield was postponed because of a rib injury. Tyson was then incarcerated for rape from 1992-95, and ensuing bizarre behavior took over his career from that point.
“Mike Tyson was the Notre Dame of boxing,” said former AP boxing writer Ed Schuyler Jr., who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in June. “People paid to see him fight, hoping he would destroy somebody or get destroyed. The haters watch as much as the lovers, you know.”
Tyson reclaimed the WBC and WBA titles in 1996 by knocking out Bruno in three rounds and Bruce Seldon in the first. But that same year, he lost the WBA belt to Holyfield in 11 rounds and was disqualified in their 1997 rematch after biting both of Holyfield’s ears.
“If I wasn’t in boxing, I’d be breaking the law,” Tyson once said.
“That’s my nature.”
From 1999-2001 Tyson fought six times, beating Frans Botha in five rounds, Lou Savarese in one, and Brian Nielsen in seven. In 2002, Tyson suffered an eighth-round knockout in an unsuccessful title bid against Lennox Lewis and retired in 2005 with a 50-6-2 record with 44 knockouts.
In the end, Tyson made more than $300 million. Not bad for a kid who went from the bowels of Brooklyn, to reform school, to D’Amato’s gym in upstate New York. Eventually, he was called heavyweight champion, he was called inmate No.
922335 at the Indiana Youth Center, and he was called a legend. Now, he can be called a Hall of Famer.
So, too, can Chavez, whose trademark was the knockout. The three-division champion registered 88 before retiring five years ago with a professional record of 107-6-2. The man who grew up in an abandoned railroad car with his five sisters and four brothers was nearly rendered speechless by his selection.
“I feel humble,” Chavez said. “At this moment in my life, to be inducted into the Hall of Fame is very special. I feel great to know that my name will be inscribed with the best of the best, to join some of my heroes and to leave a mark for my family and my country.”
Russian-born Kostya Tszyu, a junior welterweight champion, also was selected along with Mexican trainer Ignacio “Nacho” Beristain, and referee Joe Cortez.
Posthumous honorees to be enshrined June 12 include: bantamweight Memphis Pal Moore, light heavyweight champion Jack Root, and middleweight Dave Shade in the old-timer category; British heavyweight John Gully in the pioneer category; promoter A.F. Bettinson; and former BBC broadcaster Harry Carpenter.
Inductees were voted in by members of the Boxing Writers Association of America and a panel of international boxing historians.