Wednesday, November 29, 2023  |


Calvin Grove, Kendall Holt headline NJ Boxing HOF Class of 2018

Kendall Holt won his world title in a wild 61-second shootout in 2008 against Ricardo Torres. (Photo by Juan Marshall)
Fighters Network

Two former world titleholders are heading into the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame this year as Kendall Holt and Calvin Grove headline the 14-member Class of 2018. 

Holt, a native of Paterson, N.J., won the WBO junior welterweight title in a wild 61-second shootout with Ricardo Torres in 2008, going down twice before knocking Torres cold right after. He was a fixture of ESPN2 cards early on, but fought on both Showtime and HBO in a career that saw him defeat Isaac Hlatshwayo, Mike Arnaoutis, and Demetrius Hopkins, and compete in losing bouts against Tim Bradley, Danny Garcia and Kaizer Mabuza. Holt (28-6, 16 KOs) last fought in 2013, being stopped in eight by Lamont Peterson.

Grove (49-10, 18 KOs) isn’t from The Garden State but fought there 32 times – the NJBHOF allows consideration when a boxer fights 10 pro fights in-state. A fixture of Atlantic City during its boxing boom period in the 80s, Grove won his world title in France in 1988, getting off the canvas against Antonio Rivera in round four to drop him twice more in the same round to earn the IBF featherweight title. Like Holt, Grove made one successful defense before losing the belt later that year to Jorge Paez, being dropped three times in a decisive 15th round to lose a narrow majority decision.

Grove’s biggest non-title win was a stoppage of Jeff Fenech, and his other notable fights were against Azumah Nelson, Arturo Gatti and Kostya Tszyu.

Other inductees this year include boxers Charles Boston, Michael Covington, and Kevin Watts; cornermen Aaron Snowell and Lenny DeJesus; officials Alan Rubenstein and Harvey Dock; plus Matthew Saad Muhammad’s business manager Mustafa Ameen and Top Rank publicist Lee Samuels. The three posthumous inductees are Tommy Dundee, Frankie Leta and Joseph Rinaldi.

The induction dinner and ceremonies will take place on November 8 at The Venetian in Garfield, N.J. Aside from inductees, likely guests include former world champion Bobby Czyz and heavyweight title challenger Chuck Wepner, says NJBHOF president Henry Hascup.

Hascup says the election process is handled by a committee which includes NJ Boxing Commissioner Larry Hazzard Sr. and “several world class boxing judges and some people that are very knowledgeable in boxing.” 

Hascup understands the impact that being recognized has on former pros.

During the 70s, he would frequent the libraries of North Jersey, searching through microfilm to compile records of fighters on handwritten sheets of paper from old newspapers. “There was no Boxrec back then,” Hascup reminds. Later at a boxing dinner, a man with his two children and elderly father struck up a conversation with Hascup. When Hascup pulled out a sheet of paper with his father’s complete boxing record on it, the old fighter was moved to tears.

“It meant so much to him and the grandkids and the son, they couldn’t thank me enough,” said Hascup.

The NJ Hall of Fame was founded in 1968 by Adrian Bailey, though Hascup has been at the helm as president for 33 years. He recalls tears being shed by Johnny Bumphus and Alex Ramos when they were inducted, and says nothing compares to the feeling of seeing a fighter stand up and take a bow on stage while being honored by their family and peers.

“They always say ‘Thank you Henry for putting me in the Hall of Fame,’ and I say ‘I didn’t put you in the Hall of Fame, you put yourself in the Hall of Fame. I had nothing to do with it,’” said Hascup, before acknowledging maybe he has a little something to do with it.

“The guys in their late-80s, 90s, how much more do they got to go? To have that one last time in the limelight in front of their loved ones, to me that’s the greatest feeling I’ve ever had.”

The Venetian is located at 546 River Drive in Garfield, N.J. Tickets are priced at $90 ($95 by credit card) and can be purchased by check/money order by mailing the NJ Boxing Hall of Fame at 59 Kipp Ave., Lodi, N.J. 07644, or by credit card by calling Dennis Murphy at 1-201-988-6648. The event begins at 6:45 PM.

Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and can be reached at [email protected].