Saturday, March 21 marked a special day for the City of Bayonne and Chuck Wepner, as the 75 year old boxer was recognized for his accomplishments in professional boxing. Wepner was born and raised in Bayonne, and reached a pinnacle in his career when he was given the opportunity to fight Muhammad Ali in 1975.
Attended by two hundred guests, including former boxing World Champions, the event, held at the Bayonne Community Museum, also celebrated art and legacy. Ardash Sahaghian, the NJ Boxing Hall of Fame inductee who is responsible for designing most of the championship belts used today was also in attendance with his wife. Bayonne had commissioned SARTONK to make a special belt to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Ali v. Wepner fight — a gift that was kept a tight secret until the event.
After congratulatory remarks from Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis, Edward S. Majian, President of SARTONK and Ardash Sahaghian’s grandson, was invited to present the belt.
“Today, we’re celebrating a man who fought Muhammad Ali. But that’s not the crux of what he did, and it’s not enough to give us a life lesson. No, this man’s fight began long before that meeting with Ali. This is a man who made adjustments and went the distance. Fought every round and never said no,” said Majian.
“So long as we do not quit, there is no ending, there is no losing. And so, in contemplating this belt, this day, this idea, it’s truly a contemplation about going the distance, making adjustments, and building. It’s about coming from Hudson County. And, today, emerging from Bayonne,” he ended.
Majian and Mrs. Wepner handed the belt to the former boxer, who proudly held it above his head to the cheers of an enthusiastic crowd.
A large-scale painted mural of Chuck Wepner, created by local artists Nicholas Macchia and Nestor Uraga, was also revealed.