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    Default Madison Square Garden donates ring to Boxing HOF

    Retirement party
    Madison Square Garden donates ring to Boxing HOF
    Posted: Tuesday September 18, 2007 9:03PM; Updated: Tuesday September 18, 2007 9:03PM

    CANASTOTA, N.Y. (AP) -- It is 342 square feet of the most historic real estate in boxing, a place where some of the sport's greatest champions have stood -- and where some were laid flat on their backs.

    After 82 years, Madison Square Garden will retire its storied boxing ring and donate it to the International Boxing Hall of Fame, where it will go on display this fall.

    "The fans. The atmosphere. The Garden was special ... I think some of my most exciting fights were in that ring, and I always got the job done there," said Joe Frazier, who had a 9-1 record in "The Mecca of Boxing," including a 15-round decision over Muhammad Ali on March 8, 1971, in what became known as "The Fight of the Century."

    The Frazier-Ali bout was one of more than two dozen heavyweight championships fought in Madison Square Garden over its long history, along with hundreds of other title fights and thousands of non-title matches.

    On Wednesday, MSG officials will stage a special "retirement party" for the ring. Frazier and nearly two dozen other Hall of Famers, past and present champions, and boxing dignitaries will attend.

    "This was obviously not an easy decision for us, but we felt the time was right," said Joel Fisher, senior vice president of MSG Sports Properties. "The ring is 82 years old and it was starting to show its age. In addition, today's fighters are looking for bigger rings."

    Inside the ropes, the old ring is 18 feet, 6 inches on each side. A new 20-by-20-foot ring will be used on Oct. 6 when Oleg Maskaev defends his WBC heavyweight title against Samuel Peter.

    The historic ring made its debut on Dec. 1, 1925, a month after the "old" Madison Square Garden opened in its third incarnation. In that first fight, Paul Berlenbach retained his light heavyweight crown with a 15-round decision over Jack Delaney.

    The ring's metal and iron framework -- which weighs more than a ton and comes in 132 interlocking pieces -- is original, including its brass corner posts and buckles, Fisher said. Over the decades, the ropes, the padding and the canvas have been repaired and replaced.

    One accessory that isn't going into retirement is the old ring's solid brass bell, which will be used for the new ring, said MSG spokesman Larry Torres.

    Interestingly, MSG officials aren't sure if the bell is an original artifact, he said. One story goes that the bell was taken off a sunken ship in the 1940s, Torres said.

    Over the years, the MSG ring was the scene of triumph and anguish, of the expected and the unexpected.

    It was there, in October 1951, that Rocky Marciano sent an aging Joe Louis through the ropes in the eighth round, a closing chapter in Louis' fabled career.

    Six years later, Gene Fullmer shocked the boxing world with a 15-round decision over Sugar Ray Robinson.

    It was also where George Foreman made his pro debut (1969) and where Roberto Duran won the first (1972) of his four world titles. It was where 1984 Olympic boxing heroes Tyrell Biggs, Mark Breland, Virgil Hill, Evander Holyfield, Meldrick Taylor and Pernell Whitaker all turned professional (on the same Nov. 15, 1984 card).

    With the exception of 1943 and 2000, every Golden Gloves championship has been decided in the MSG ring, producing champions including Juan LaPorte, Hector Camacho, Davey Moore and Eddie Mustafa Muhammad.

    For most fight fans, the first Ali-Frazier matchup is the one that comes to mind when talking about the Garden's famous fights.

    "There's so much nostalgia there," said Hall of Fame trainer Angelo Dundee, who lived across the street from Madison Square Garden and made his early career there "hustling" preliminary fights and four-round emergency bouts.

    Dundee was in Ali's corner that night.

    "I remember the weigh-in ... We never left the building. We had to stay there because of the crowds. We couldn't get through the people. So we stayed there and rested until the fight. They were four deep around the Garden. They couldn't get no tickets," said Dundee, who met his wife of 55 years at the Garden.

    The Ali-Frazier fight was televised closed-circuit to 300 million people worldwide.

    Although Hall of Fame referee Art Mercante said he lost count of the number of fights he officiated at the Garden, he, too, said it was the Ali-Frazier fight that comes to mind first.

    "I've done hundreds of fights there. Some important, others not so important," Mercante said. "But any fight there was something special. There was always an electricity all over the place. And they are true boxing fans there."

    Boxing Hall of Fame Executive Director Ed Brophy likened the MSG ring to Yankee Stadium in baseball or Lambeau Field in football.

    "I can't even begin to imagine the millions of fight fans who share memories linked to this ring," Brophy said. "The people who came to the Garden in person over the decades. And the people who watched the fights on TV. It touches people across time, and around the world."

    In Canastota, the ring will be set up as an exhibit in the museum's events pavilion. There will be no more fights.

    "It's going to be a piece of history now.," Brophy said. "It's wonderful that boxing fans from around the world who visit here will now be able to sit in a first row, ringside seat next to the most famous ring ever. What an awesome experience."
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  2. #2
    Hot For Teacher eman2's Avatar
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    09.02.14 @ 08:53 AM
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    That's cool! I am from Canastota and that will be a huge attraction at the Hall of Fame. Every year there are inductions and tons of boxers come to participate. I've met Ali, Frasier, Haggler, Mancini, Forman, Sugar Ray, Morrison and Mr. T.



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