International boxing referee Arthur Mercante, Jr. will join his father, the late Arthur Mercante, Sr., in the New York State Boxing Hall of Fame (NYSBHOF) to become the first father-son inducted into the NYSBHOF.
The 24-member Class of 2019 will be inducted at the eighth annual NYSBHOF induction dinner on Sunday afternoon (12:30-5:30 p.m. ET), April 28, at Russo’s On The Bay in Howard Beach, New York.
Mercante, Jr. was an amateur boxer who lost in the 1976 New York Golden Gloves to Juan LaPorte (NYSBHOF inductee, Class of 2014). “I felt I beat him, and I wanted to turn pro,” Mercante, Jr. explained how he got into officiating. “My father said no as long as I lived in his house, but he suggested I try referring.”
Mercante, Jr. started refereeing in 1979 in the amateurs and moved up to the pro ranks in 1984. He has referred 336 fights, including 72 title fights. Mercante, Jr. has some wonderful memories, including a humorous story in which he was accidentally punched.
“I was referring a fight (unified world super middleweight title fight, on Jan. 14, 2017 at Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn) between Badou Jack and James DeGale,” Mercante, Jr. remembered. “I heard the 10-second warning at the end of the sixth round and started counting 5-4-3-2-1. At the same time, Jack hit me in the face with a left hook, and I slipped. Beau asked me if I was alright. I said I was fine. Later, he said that he had hit me with a good shot and that I owned him a good shot. After the fight, he told me I can take a good shot.”
Mercante, Jr. believed the key to be a good referee is breaking apart fighters in clinches and staying out of the picture, because a fight isn’t about the referee.
One of his most memorable moments of his career was working the same show as his father, who was 81 time, for the first time in 1981 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Father worked the main event between Roy Jones, Jr. and David Telesco, Mercante, Jr. handled a fight between David Izon and Derrick Jefferson.
Now, Mercante, Jr. is heading into the NYSBHOF to join his father. “I never thought I’d be in any Hall of Fame,” Mercante, Jr. commented. “When the call came January 27th (2019) from Bob Duffy (NYBHOF president), it couldn’t have come at a more special day, because my father would have turned 99 that day.
“It’s an honor, especially going in with this class. I worked a fight between Michael Olajide and Iran Barkley and Michael is getting in this year. Don King, of course, and I worked a lot of shows with Wayne Kelly. Ring 8 has always been a great organization. I’d like to thank everyone involved.”
Living boxers heading into the NYSBHOF include (Bronx-born) three-time, two-division world champion Wilfredo Benitez (53-8-1, 31 KOs), Canastota welterweight Dick DiVeronica (44-13-1, 13 KOs), (Hempstead) WBO super featherweight world champion Rogelio Tuur (46-4-1, 30 KOs), (Bronx) 1968 U.S. Olympian Davey Vasquez (19-15, 6 KOs), WBO super middleweight world title challenger Michael Olajide (27-5, 19 KOs), of Manhattan, and Queens’ world heavyweight title challenger Monte Barrett (35-11-2, 20 KOs).
Posthumous participants being inducted are (Bronx) three-time lightweight world champion Jimmy Carter (84-31-9, 34 KOs), Brooklyn welterweight Al “Bummy” Davis (65-10-4, 46 KOs), (Schenectady) world welterweight champion Marty Servo (47-4-2, 14 KOs), (Bronx) world heavyweight title challenger Roland LaStarza (57-9, 27 KOs), Brooklyn world lightweight champion Paddy DeMarco (75-26-3, 8 KOs )and Manhattan’s Lower East Side lightweights Sid Terris (94-13-5, 12 KOs) and Leach “The Fighting Dentist” Cross (35-10-4, 22 KOs).
In addition to Mercante, Jr., other living non-participants heading into the NYSBHOF are New York City-based promoter Don King, Flushing judge John McKaie, Brooklyn sportscaster Steve Albert, and Bronx trainer Bob Jackson.
Posthumous non-participant inductees are Utica matchmaker Dewey Fragetta, Corona, Queens referee Johnny LoBianco, Garden City referee Wayne Kelly, Flushing sportsman Harry Hill, award-winning journalist Jimmy Cannon, of Manhattan’s Upper East Side, and NYSAC official/former NABF president Joe Dwyer, of Brooklyn.
Each attending inductee (or direct descendant of) will receive a custom-designed belt signifying his or her induction into the NYSBHOF.
The 2019 inductees were selected by the NYSBHOF nominating committee members: Randy Gordon, Henry Hascup, Don Majeski, Ron McNair, and Neil Terens.
All boxers needed to be inactive for at least three years to be eligible for NYSBHOF induction, and all inductees must have resided in New York State for a significant portion of their boxing careers or during the prime of their respective career.