The Travelin’ Man goes to Induction Weekend 2019: Part Two
Friday, June 7: During Induction Weekend, sleep is little more than a necessary interruption of fun. Therefore I awakened a little more than four hours after turning out the lights, eager to begin the next phase of my 27th straight appearance at the event.
That said, today’s eagerness was mixed with a tinge of sadness because today marks the second anniversary of my father’s passing, an event which was posted not long after returning home. Although I have faith that Dad’s soul is in a better, happier place, his absence is a void I feel every moment of every day. The trick is to not let that empty feeling supersede the potential joy that every day holds and, at least so far, that mindset has worked wonders.
I spent the first couple of hours of this day polishing my copy as well as updating my research on history’s youngest champions because I was curious whether Jorge Arce, at 19 years 136 days, remained the 10th youngest fighter in history to win a widely recognized championship, as well as the youngest Mexican. Except for adding Kosei Tanaka (19 years 354 days, the oldest teenager on record and No. 28 on the list) and David Benavidez (20 years 270 days, No. 60 on the list), the roster remained unchanged from May 2014.
I had hoped to reach the Hall of Fame grounds by 10 a.m. but the time required to finish my work pushed that back by nearly an hour. After slathering on my 100 SPF sunscreen – I am thoroughly afflicted by the “Curse of the Redhead” – I walked toward the food truck, ordered a cheeseburger and a Diet Pepsi, took my seat underneath an umbrella-covered table near the rear of the property and listened to part of today’s first Ringside Lecture that involved former two-division titlist Paulie Ayala, while also chatting to whomever stopped by and said hello.
After finishing my “breakfast,” I found a seat at the pavilion and took in Don Scott’s annual talk on memorabilia. This year, I asked Scott, publisher of Boxing Collectors’ News and the possessor of one of the largest private collections in the world, the following: “In the boxing video world, footage of Harry Greb in combat would be considered the Holy Grail, in terms of the most prized and valuable items. What would be the equivalent, as far as other aspects of memorabilia?”
His answers: An autograph of former heavyweight titlist Marvin Hart, a ticket depicting Nonpareil Jack Dempsey, a program of Joe Louis’ heavyweight title defense in Philadelphia against Gus Dorazio and fight-worn gear from John L. Sullivan and Muhammad Ali – if this can be verified. While modern DNA testing could confirm the authenticity of items worn by Ali, one must wonder if anything by Sullivan could be authenticated in the same manner. Scott and I agreed; the likelihood of that is extremely minimal, if not nil.
Of the many moments that occurred during my hours on the grounds this day, the most treasured happened following the fist-casting ceremony, when I met three-time light heavyweight titlist Marvin Johnson, who was making his first appearance in Canastota. I had long admired Johnson’s warrior mindset and, thanks to friend (and Illinois Boxing Hall-of-Famer) Ernie Brown, I was able to express my high regard to him face to face.
Johnson had left the sport justifiably embittered because, despite his exciting style, he was unable to secure fights that would have allowed him to achieve lifelong financial security. During his third reign as champion, fights with Thomas Hearns and Bobby Czyz were seen as highly attractive pairings that would have generated millions for both but, for whatever reason, neither bout ever happened. Instead the 33-year-old Johnson – who, by now, was affectionately nicknamed “Pops” – suffered a brutal beating in his May 1987 rematch against previous victim Leslie Stewart, an eighth round corner retirement loss in Stewart’s native Trinidad that was fated to be the final fight of his 49-fight career that lasted one day over 14 years.
As soured as he was about the sport back then, Johnson’s time spent in Canastota produced many smiles from the Indianapolis native. After undergoing the fist-casting process, Johnson took his seat beside wife Delores and one row in front of Brown and, for some time afterward, he visited with a line of admirers who expressed the same appreciation for him that I did. It was made clear to him that not only was he remembered more than three decades after his final fight but that he also was loved in the way only those who gave their all in the ring are loved.
I am on record as being one who would favor having Johnson’s name be brought before the IBHOF voters and I believe this public appearance was designed to vault his name onto the front burner of those voters’ minds, a blueprint that worked for eventual inductees Danny “Little Red” Lopez and 2019 class member Julian Jackson. I sincerely hope the IBHOF screening committee will see fit to do just that.
I left the grounds at 5:15 p.m. with the intent of arriving at the Turning Stone Casino before 6 p.m., so I could secure my press credential for the fight card that was to begin at 7. This I did and I was pleased to see that my work space was located in row one. To my left were Brian Young and Rocco Lucente of Ringsider Report, while The Sweet Science’s Matt Andrejewski was to my immediate right.
The first fight of the evening was a scheduled six-round welterweight bout between the 9-0 (with 7 knockouts) Boubacar Sylla (trained by Brian McIntyre) and journeyman Marquis Hawthorne (7-10, with 1 KO). As longtime boxing fans know, one can’t always judge a fighter by his record – either good or bad – and this was one such fight. The action was, for the most part, closely contested but Sylla’s superior accuracy and power enabled him to overcome Hawthorne’s “professional resistance” and capture a unanimous decision.
Following a close first round, Hawthorne began the second with a solid right that got an “Ooh..” from the still-arriving crowd, while also being able to cut the gap and connect with several body shots. A minute into the round, Sylla connected with a long right that snapped Hawthorne’s head, then pulled away with the slightest of swellings around the left eye (an injury that would be well-controlled). Several more rights landed over the final two minutes, allowing him to edge that round in my eyes.
In the third, the still retreating Sylla speared Hawthorne with long counters that scored points but inflicted little damage. A strong right near the end of the round by Hawthorne might have swung the round his way. The pattern of the fight was now clear: Hawthorne doing his best to score with body shots and swings aimed at the head and Sylla doing just a little more in each category for longer periods. His hands were a little faster, his defense a little tighter and his punches a little stronger.
Still, Sylla often backed straight up with his hands slightly lowered, a flaw Hawthorne exploited in the final 30 seconds of the fifth when he landed a three-punch combo capped by a hard right to the chin. That blow caused Hawthorne to accelerate his pursuit to the point that we at ringside gave him the round.
Entering the sixth and final round, we believed the result was still in question and, as Hawthorne connected with another right, those questions became even stronger. Halfway through the round, Hawthorne finally got the close-range firefight he wanted and he appeared to get the better of things, a scenario that repeated itself in the fight’s final 15 seconds.
At fight’s end, the ringside opinions were split – Lucente scored it even while Andrejewski and I saw Sylla ahead (59-55 for Matt, 58-56 for me) but with the caveat of several “close” rounds. The pros saw it similarly to Matt and me as John McKaie and Eric Marlinski turned in 58-56 scorecards for Sylla, while Glenn Feldman had it wider at 59-55. Artistically speaking, this opener served its purpose: A nice table-setter for the remainder of the evening.
Next up was a scheduled four-round cruiserweight contest between southpaws with contrasting records as well as contrasting nicknames: The 4-0 (with 4 KOs) Alex “Lights Out” Vanasse and the 5-4 (with 2 KOs) Eric “Caution” Abraham. We hoped Abraham’s nickname represented a warning to Vanasse rather than a commentary on how he generally fights.
Happily for us – and frighteningly for Vanasse – the former proved true as “Caution” Abraham scored the knockout of the night as well as the card’s biggest upset.
Vanasse opened in his typical southpaw stance, while Abraham began as a righty, though he spent most of the round switching between stances. Interestingly Vanesse was fighting on the retreat while “Caution” methodically stalked. Vanasse’s clean right hook near the end of the round might have swung the opening round to his column.
The second round saw Vanasse land jabs to the head and body, as well as with arcing right hooks to the chin. Unlike most southpaws, Vanasse’s power left was used sparingly while the right did most of the work. His jabs picked away at openings, while his sweeping hooks landed forcefully. Vanasse fought with his hands mostly below chest level but Abraham was unable to exploit the seemingly open target – at least not yet.
That changed midway through the third when Abraham exploded with a violent flurry that drove Vanasse to the floor. The Carmel, New York, favorite managed to rise but Abraham seized the moment by driving inside, then connecting with a scary right hook to the jaw that had caused Vanasse to collapse in sections. Referee Benjy Esteves Jr. rightly stopped the fight without a count at the 1:52 mark. Vanasse remained on the stool for several minutes and a stretcher was rolled to ringside as a precautionary measure. As the paramedics swung by ringside, Vanasse looked disappointed but generally OK.
Junior middleweights Wendy Toussaint (9-0, 4 KOs) and Lucius Johnson (4-5-1, 3 KOs) were in the unenviable position of following the explosive Abraham-Vanasse bout. An encouraging sign: Young predicted this card’s second straight upset victory.
“Don’t blink,” another ringsider opined as the opening bell sounded. I’m glad I didn’t follow that advice because this six-rounder ended up going the distance.
Toussaint controlled the first round by walking down the switch-hitting Johnson and landing several hard rights to the chin. Those rights enabled Toussaint to win rounds two and three and the retreating Johnson had no answers beyond switching stances every few seconds and lunging inside behind inaccurate blows from time to time. Toussaint looked quicker, sprightly and composed, while Johnson tried hard, but unsuccessfully, to unlock the mystery. In the final minute of round three, Toussaint landed yet another right to the chin and Johnson’s “Yeah, you got me” acknowledgement of it brought chuckles from the audience.
A right-left-right to the chin by Toussaint in the first minute of the fourth potentially foreshadowed a new plot twist and a right to the ear set up a whistling one-two that propelled Johnson’s mouthpiece out of the ring. Johnson gestured to Toussaint that he should stop fighting in order to have the mouthpiece replaced and, at least for a split-second, Toussaint acquiesced. Referee Mark Nelson then spotted the displaced gumshield and called time out but this bit of non-verbal give-and-take struck us ringsiders as unusual.
Toussaint turned tiger early in the fifth, as he charged Johnson and landed three big rights to the jaw. A finish seemed imminent but a clash of skulls caused Johnson to slump to the floor, prompting another brief time out. That pause did little to stem Toussaint’s growing control of the bout, which was expanding toward totality.
Toussaint said as much – literally – in the opening seconds of round six, as he shouted “I got you!” to no one in particular. The verbal jousting continued midway through the round when Johnson twice uttered his own nickname – “Bulldog” – then amplified his defiance by barking at Toussaint. A somewhat bemused Toussaint responded by slamming a final right to the jaw, then good-naturedly shoulder-bumping with Johnson after the final bell sounded.
As expected, all three judges deemed Toussaint a 60-54 winner, closing the curtain on a mathematical landslide that had more than a few moments of weirdness.
Bout No. 4 was the night’s first “special attraction” as 2-0 (with 2 KOs) welterweight Alciblade Duran Galvan – also known as “Robert Duran Jr.” – met 3-0 Jonathan “The Boogie Man” Pierre in a scheduled four-rounder. The presence of chief second Vinny Paz (a.k.a. Vinny Pazienza) – who twice defeated the legendary Roberto Duran by decision a generation ago – added intrigue to the red corner dynamic.
The first round was a cat-and-mouse affair with Duran being the former and Pierre the latter, with neither scoring with many clean punches. In round two, however, Duran appeared to adjust a bit better to Pierre’s jukes, pivots and sidesteps, as he landed a heavy right to the chest while coming out even in an exchange of right crosses. While Duran was unable to cut off Pierre’s escape routes, his aggression and initiative appeared to earn him the round.
The pattern continued for most of round three as Duran chased and Pierre boxed but the closing seconds saw Pierre nail Duran with three clean rights to the jaw that may have won him the round.
With the result still in doubt, Pierre stepped up his game in round four by landing a few more clean rights, jabbing well to the body and even muttering something to Duran midway through the round. Although my eyes perceived a potential draw, experience told me that Duran would be deemed a 39-37 winner, thanks to his forward movement and harder hitting. The vote at ringside was all over the place: While Andrejewski and Young had it 39-37 for Duran, Lucente saw it a 40-36 sweep for Pierre.
The judges were split as well, as Tom Schreck saw Pierre a 39-37 winner but was overruled by a pair of 39-37 scores for the winner – and still undefeated – Duran.
Duran’s split decision win set the stage for the traditional roll call of celebrities emceed by James “Smitty” Smith. After Micky Ward, Michael Spinks, Michael Moorer, Antonio Tarver, Erik Morales, Shane Mosley, Vinny Paz and parade grand marshal Holt McCallany were introduced, Smith called six members of the Class of 2019 into the ring – Lee Samuels, Don Elbaum, Tony DeMarco, Teddy Atlas, Donald Curry, Julian Jackson and James “Buddy” McGirt. The group posed for pictures, then left the ring to allow the night’s fifth bout to begin, a scheduled eight-round lightweight contest between 14-0-1 (with 3 KOs) Mario Alfano and 8-1-1 (with 3 KOs) southpaw Lavisas Williams – a fight Lucente aptly described as “the pitbull versus the praying mantis.”
Williams – Lucente’s “Mantis” – who hadn’t fought since O’Shaquie Foster scored a seventh round TKO victory in February 2016, began the fight brightly as he pumped right jabs into Alfano’s face and, aside from a thumping power shot and a mid-round volley of bombs along the ropes, the fight remained at his preferred range. The second was even better for Williams, as he landed a snappy combination at ring center about a minute in, while also mixing in several body shots. That said, Alfano landed enough power shots to raise small swellings under both of Williams’ eyes.
The pattern continued in the third – Williams moving and Alfano in bob-and-weave pursuit – but, late in the round, Alfano broke through with a nice two-fisted barrage to the body. The fight dramatically turned early in the fourth when an accidental clash of heads opened a gash over Williams’ right eye. Despite the cut leaking blood during the medical time out, the ringside physician allowed the contest to continue. Once the action resumed, the urgency level on both sides increased substantially but the strategic template remained the same for the remainder of the session – and the remainder of the fight.
Williams’ control increased in the sixth, as he threw combinations with more confidence, and the cut remained under control, thanks to good corner work. He mixed his attack to the head and body, invested more mustard in his left crosses and uppercuts and his leg speed was enough to carry him out of danger before Alfano could counter. Williams’ work rate increased markedly in the seventh, thanks to his up-and-down combinations and, while Alfano remained dogged and determined, he couldn’t prevent Williams from shedding the rust that had accumulated during his 39 ½-month break from boxing.
However his brows couldn’t withstand the accidental butt that opened a cut under William’s left eye in the eighth. Seeing the red flowing from “Red’s” face, Alfano launched a desperate attack, swarming in Rocky Marciano-like fashion in a full-blown effort to turn the tide. Unfortunately for him, Williams had enough leg strength to avoid the worst of Alfano’s rushes and made it to the final bell.
Around ringside, we felt Williams had earned a 77-75 decision and the judges followed suit, as John McKaie and Eric Marlinski saw Williams a 78-74 winner, while Don Ackerman’s card read 77-75.
For the fighter nicknamed “Red,” it was a red-letter day.
The night’s co-main event paired two southpaws in the 22-0 (with 3 KOs) David Papot and the 27-3-1 (with 14 KOs) James McGirt Jr. – son of the 2019 IBHOF inductee – for a pair of regional middleweight titles: The WBO International and WBA Intercontinental belts. About a minute into the round, I heard someone behind me say, “Hey, this French guy can actually fight.” However McGirt’s strong jabs bloodied Papot’s nose and, midway through the second, a brief “U.S.A.” chant in McGirt’s honor began. In round three, McGirt incorporated double hooks to the body in addition to his drumbeat of jolting jabs, which swelled Papot’s eyes.
A pair of body shots – a straight left to the liver and a right to the ribs – brought a shake of the head from Papot but, in the boxing ring, “No” almost always means “Yes.”
While McGirt won most of the first five rounds, a subtle shift began in the sixth as Papot began closing the distance a bit, maneuvered McGirt toward the ropes and stunned the American with a pair of left crosses. Blood now came out of McGirt’s nose and a mouse formed underneath his left eye. Papot’s surge continued in the seventh as he connected with a strong left cross while McGirt’s punches lacked their earlier steam and snap. Were McGirt’s 36 years starting to tell or was this a mere mid-fight plateau following a strong start?
To us at ringside, the fight was even through eight rounds and the second half of round nine was the most exciting to date, as the 28-year-old Papot first nailed McGirt with a trio of power rights with McGirt responding with a spirited rally that forced Papot to retreat. The remainder of the round was a slugfest that further bloodied Papot’s face and won McGirt the round.
The power hitting continued in the 10th as Papot nailed McGirt with a heavy left cross to amplify his right hooks while McGirt responded with a pair of volleys. However Papot’s aggression and better pop earned him the 10th round and a 5-5 tie on my card entering the final two rounds.
Papot won the 11th by pushing the fight and connecting with harder blows against a somewhat wearier McGirt, then captured the 12th with crisper, more compact combinations at close range. Once again, Andrejewski and I were in sync on the scorecards, while Lucente saw it even.
This time Lucente’s card lined up with the official result as John McKaie’s 114-114 score superseded the card submitted by Glenn Feldman (117-111 Papot) and Tom Schreck (115-113 McGirt).
Nearly four-and-a-half hours after the opening bell, the main event fighters entered the ring – junior welterweights Cletus Seldin and former two-division titlist Zab Judah, who, at 41, was nine years older than his antagonist but looked in solid cosmetic shape.
The well-muscled Seldin, as usual, came out like a rocket, while Judah coolly retreated and worked behind his jab. The hot pace eventually settled into a more modest environment and though Seldin appeared to edge the round, Judah succeeded in imposing the more controlled action that suited his style and chronology.
Seldin also appeared a narrow winner in the second and a wider winner in the third, as he upped the pressure and connected with solid body shots. The wearing-down process appeared in full force, yet Seldin wasn’t the high-octane puncher of earlier fights. Here Seldin was more measured in terms of the force behind his punches but his work rate remained elevated.
Late in the third, a huge right staggered Judah, whose legs performed a dance similar to that of the Kostya Tszyu fight in November 2001. The pace heated up in the fourth, as Seldin pursued the kill, while Judah began landing well with left crosses for the first time in the fight. The bout was waged in the trenches – Seldin territory – with the younger man cranking hooks, crosses and uppercuts, while Judah’s gas tank appeared to be ebbing. A right hook early in the fifth landed well for Seldin, while Judah, though still quick, shifted into survival mode, firing only enough to keep Seldin from completely steamrolling him.
But that effort didn’t last long as a powerful barrage wobbled Judah, prompting Seldin to kick up into another gear, a gear with which “Super Judah” could no longer cope. A sharp left by Judah in the final seconds offered a glimmer of hope but Seldin recovered quickly and exited the round without experiencing further danger.
The template continued in the sixth as the charging Seldin clubbed Judah time and again, while Judah responded with harder, quicker, dangerous-looking but singular and sporadic blows. Those blows raised a swelling under Seldin’s right eye but the younger man was winning the numbers game by a mile. It was evident that, to win, those numbers would have to become overwhelming. It also was clear that this process would require more time to complete.
Interestingly Judah stood in his corner between rounds seven and eight and responded with one of his better rounds, as he landed sharply with single left uppercuts and right hooks. Meanwhile Seldin continued to grind away with less snappy blows in big numbers, a scenario which continued in the ninth. This time, Judah sat down between the ninth and 10th, a sign that Seldin’s tactics were finally taking a toll on Judah’s energy supply.
The 10th was a big round for Seldin, as he pounded Judah’s targets non-stop while the ex-champ, at times, appeared ready to wilt only to catch himself and soldier onward.
Only Judah’s considerable pride kept him upright as long as he did. Then, with startling suddenness, the final sequence began a little more than a minute into the 11th as a hook wobbled Judah, plunging him, for the first time, onto the verge of collapse. A volley of blows trapped Judah on the ropes, where he absorbed a non-stop fusillade of power shots. Referee Charlie Fitch allowed the pounding to continue for several seconds, then opted to intervene at the 1:40 mark. While some ringsiders thought Fitch’s move was a bit premature, I felt it was fully justified because, seconds before the stoppage, I saw Judah sag in a way that indicated that his sharpness of mind and body were no longer there.
The question as to whether this would be Judah’s final fight was one that circulated around ringside and the consensus was split. Some of us believed it was the end, while one thought a potential fight with fellow former titlist Demetrius “Chop Chop” Corley – who was here at Induction Weekend – might be made. (Note: We later learned that Judah suffered a brain bleed – effectively ending his career – but that he was alert and resting comfortably.)
With the time now 12:20 a.m. – and with a long drive ahead of me – I packed my belongings and headed back to the hotel. Just leaving the parking garage was a chore, as dozens of cars from different directions tried to squeeze themselves into the single-file line that stretched four floors. Once out, I got on the New York State Thruway, bought a late-night snack, returned to my room and caught up on all the news and sports I missed. Shortly before 3 a.m., the lights went out.
Saturday, June 8: For me, Saturday is my favorite day of the Induction Weekend, mostly because of the card and memorabilia show staged at Canastota High School. It is the one event in which I allow myself to splurge but, in recent years, my purchases had a business-related purpose, specifically having source material for potential future articles for RingTV.com. Two years earlier, those purchases provided invaluable reference for what would become my second book – “Muhammad Ali: By the Numbers.”
I had planned to sell my 15 copies of “Numbers” through individual encounters but Randy Gordon – co-host of “At the Fights” on SiriusXM Channel 156 and the author of the new book “Glove Affair,” a must-buy item on my list – graciously offered to share his table with me. So, after awakening at 7:30 a.m. and spending the next two hours getting ready for the day, as well as editing copy, I was on my way.
I knew that finding a parking space close to the high school by this time would be futile, so I settled for a spot that required a 300-foot walk. I used the extended handle on my laptop bag to create a makeshift dolly, greatly easing the process of transporting my box of books from place to place.
Although I didn’t have a ticket for the event, the press credential issued to me by the Hall was enough to gain entry. I didn’t know where Randy’s table was located, so I first scanned the hallway to see if it was in that area. It wasn’t. I then entered the gym and sifted the tables on the right-hand side. No dice. After speaking briefly with several people who recognized me, I found Randy’s table on the left side of the gym along the wall, a couple of slots away from Hall-of-Famer J. Russell Peltz’s table and next to that manned by ace memorabilia man John Gay. There, sitting with his wife Roni (known as “Queen Roni”), was Randy and about a dozen copies of his new book “Glove Affair.” As he cleared a small area for me, he said he had already sold four copies (his table-mate was about to make that five), which told me that my proximity to him would surely boost my own sales.
Did they ever. Over the next few hours, I sold all but one of the books I had in the box. My efforts were also enhanced by event emcee David Diamante, a world-class announcer, who is an even bigger boxing fan and an even nicer man. He stopped by our table, promised to acquire a copy in the future and proceeded to inform the audience of my presence and my location on at least three occasions. Not only that, he placed particular emphasis on my credentials, an extremely nice touch that was much appreciated. In every way possible, Diamante is top shelf.
Once my supply of books dwindled, I took time to indulge in my own shopping. I stopped by the tables occupied by Kevin Bandel – also known as “Mr. Magazine” – and proceeded to fill in many holes of my collections of KO Magazine and The Ring, which may serve as source material for future projects if I would be blessed by sufficient down time. I then purchased 63 magazines and Kevin graciously provided me a new and very sturdy box to store them.
I returned to the table, wound down the selling process, packed my belongings (old and new) and drove to the Hall of Fame grounds. I didn’t attend either the VIP “Gala” Cocktail event at the Greystone or the Banquet of Champions at the Turning Stone because, for the second straight year, instead dining with fellow boxing guys Jack “Mantequilla” Hirsch, J.R. “Jowett Boy” Jowett, longtime writer Frank Bartolini and Neil “Mustafa” Terens. This dinner, however, was blessed by the presence of an additional guest, lawyer Kevin Sullivan, of the law firm Sullivan & Galleshaw, based in Queens. As was the case last year, we dined at Catalina’s, which is located across the street from the Greystone, and the next three hours were chock full of good food and better conversation.
Just before leaving the Hall of Fame grounds, I reacquired my copy of Harry Mullan’s “The Great Book of Boxing,” which boasts more than 300 signatures collected over more than two decades of attending the IBHOF weekend. Two years ago, the binding had almost completely broken and I was told that a Syracuse company might be able to fix it, so I left the book with the Hall. Unfortunately the binding remains unrepaired for a host of reasons, so I asked the Hall to return the book to me because I found a company back home that could possibly fix it. However I also had an additional motive: Adding Marvin Johnson’s autograph. My friend Ernie Brown had told me that he and Marvin would leave Canastota very early Sunday morning and now that I had my book back, I had hoped to arrange a meeting. Although I reached out to Ernie via Facebook Messenger, we never connected. I drove back to my hotel and watched the ESPN card topped by WBO featherweight titlist Oscar Valdez’s unanimous decision win over Jason Sanchez. By the time the card ended, I didn’t have the energy to watch the DAZN replay of Gennadiy Golovkin’s fourth round KO against Steve Rolls, so I turned out the lights and prepared for the crown jewel of Induction Weekend – the induction ceremony.
Lee Groves is a boxing writer and historian based in Friendly, West Virginia. He is a full member of the BWAA, from which he has won 16 writing awards, including two first-place awards, since 2011. He has been an elector for the International Boxing Hall of Fame since 2001 and is also a writer, researcher and punch-counter for CompuBox, Inc. He is the author of “Tales from the Vault: A Celebration of 100 Boxing Closet Classics” (available on Amazon) and the co-author of the newly released book “Muhammad Ali: By the Numbers” (also available on Amazon). To contact Groves about a personalized autographed copy, use the email [email protected] or send him a message via Facebook.
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