By Michele Chong – GUEST POST – for dmboxing.com
Several boxing champs, contenders and members of the Golden State Boxers’ Association (GSBA) were honored at this year’s awards ceremony and holiday banquet taking place at the Steven’s Steakhouse in Commerce.
This boxing group is built through a network of past and current fighters, trainers cornermen, judges, referees and others working in the fight game. Meeting every Tuesday in Hollywood, the GSBA provides a “one-stop shop” for boxing aficionados to get together in sharing their love of the sport. President Larry Montalvo and Vice President Bill Dempsey Young and their dedicated wives have bridged the gap in bringing everyone together through their love of boxing. And each person in the hall has a strong tie to the sweet science. Dining on steak, shrimp and chicken, those in the sold-out crowd listened to heartfelt tributes to this year’s honorees. One of the most touching moments was when I watched British lightweight Allen Syers’ family accept a posthumous award. Elise Syers, wife of Allen, his son Philip and their family accepted the “Don Fraser Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award” bestowed upon Allen, who passed away on December 5. Syers was a longtime member of the group and his passing leaves a void.
Boxing builds unbreakable bonds and many in the room reconnected after first meeting decades ago. Burbank’s Rick Farris and Frankie Santillan share a history of boxing in their youth, turning pro at the same time–and even forging a friendship after fighting each other. Friendships like these, in and out of the ring, are what makes this organization special. Everyone is treated with respect, no matter how many victories or defeats are logged on their ledgers.
And it’s a friendly haven for family members who have lost loved ones; a place to remain linked to boxing even though their favorite champs have passed away. WBC Lightweight Champ Mando Ramos died in 2008 but his widow, Sylvia Ramos, and his father Ray Ramos are still dedicated members of the GSBA. For them, their husband and son continues to live on through the recollections of those who knew him well. Both joined the festivities at the banquet held this month.
During the day, a bittersweet “Ten Count” was issued by the event emcee Bill Dempsey Young for all boxing members lost this year. Then the 2011 awards celebration got underway including “Women Behind the Boxer” honors for Nelly Noriega (wife of Dr. Joe Noriega, former World Boxing Hall of Fame President and WBC Supervisor), an “Outstanding Achievement in Boxing” award for Steve Harpst (boxing trainer and sculptor) a “Don Fraser Lifetime Achievement Award” for both Gwen Adair (judge/referee) and boxing historian David Martinez, and 2011 Recognition Awards going to two-time world champ Bobby “Schoolboy” Chacon, Danny Valdez, Bill and Linda Young, Arnie Koslow, Fred Rios, Don Cason, and Larry and Elsa Montalvo. The honorees received an assortment beautiful plaques, proclamation certificates from city officials, framed photos, and statues. All of the new recipients were appreciative to be recognized by their peers, family and friends in the audience who enjoyed a delicious meal and took part in a prize raffle with Elsa Montalvo, her beautiful granddaughters and “rising star” Jonathan, her little grandson.
Former fighters and notables also in attendance included Rocky Pepeli, Danny “Little Red” Lopez, Mando Muniz, Rick Farris, Frank Santillan, Mario Evangelista, California Boxing Hall of Fame’s Don Fraser, author J.J. Johnston, and many more.
During the 2011 Inductee ceremony, there was also a unique awards presentation within this awards show. Johnny Ortiz and Joey Olmos took to the stage to announce this year’s Joe Louis Humanitarian Awards that went to Bobby Chacon, Ruben Castillo, Rodolfo “Gato” Gonzalez, Jimmy Gambina, Ray Ramos, Danny Valdez, Vince Agosto, Elsa Montalvo and David Martinez. Wearing this new medal of honor around their necks, each nominee beamed with pride.
This holiday event was a highlight of the year for everybody involved. A specials thanks to the GSBA for my own 2011 “Outstanding Achievement in Boxing” award. It is something I will remember to live up to.
Congratulations to all the inductees and Happy New Year to all!