Lou Savarese among Class of 2020 getting inducted into NYSBHOF

Popular heavyweight Lou Savarese and the late Dr. William Lathan are members of the Class of 2020 being inducted into the New York State Boxing Hall of Fame (NYSBHOF), originally scheduled for April 19, 2019, this Sunday afternoon (Sept. 19 (12:30-5:30 p.m. ET), at Russo’s On The Bay in Howard Beach, New York.

The 28-member Class of 2019 will be honored at the ninth NYSBHOF induction dinner. There will not be a Class of 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions that forced the event’s 2019 postponement until next month.

New York City guidelines mandates all attendees must be vaccinated to attend indoor events.

A 2-time New York Golden Gloves champion, Savarese fought professionally between 1989 and 2007, compiling and outstanding 46-7 (38 KOs) record. Born in Greenwood Lake, NY, Savarese knocked out Buster Mathis to capture the USBA heavyweight crown and former undisputed world champion James “Buster” Douglas for the IBA World title, as well as 2-time world heavyweight champion Tim Witherspoon in for the WBO Inter-Continental strap.

Savarese fought the best-of-the-best during his era, including Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson, and George Foreman. In 1997, Savarese lost a controversial 12-round majority decision to lineal and WBU heavyweight champion George Foreman (75-4) in Atlantic City.

Today, Savarese lives in Houston, where he owns and offers fitness and boxing training at Fight Fit gym.

“I am still so extremely honored to be inducted into the New York State Boxing Hall of Fame” Savarese said after the long delay due to the cancellation of the original induction date due to COVID-19 restrictions. “I have to be honest; it has been odd getting inducted before the pandemic, then COVID postponing it until this time. Being from New York and a boxing historian, I am still in awe to receive this award, because New York is still the mecca of boxing. To be worthy of this induction is just surreal to me. Men like Jake LaMotta, Rocky Graziano and Gerry Cooney, I can’t imagine being on the same club with these men.

“None of this could have been accomplished without my amazing family. My mom and dad were the most supportive any parents could be, and my brothers and sisters were always there for me. They still are and I will always be their little brother not a heavyweight champ. I wish my mom and dad could see me get this sward, but they are somewhere above sharing this very proud moment. I had the most incredible manager, Bob Spagnola, and trainers Bobby Benton, Tommy Gallagher, and Al Bolden.

Dr. Lathan was best known for his commitment and contributions to boxing medicine. He was a ringside physician for more than five hundred professional shows for three decades. He served as the Medical Director for the New York State Athletic Commission from 1996 to 2000. Dr. Lathan was responsible for ensuring all competing fighters were medically qualified to box. He developed criteria for proper referral and disposition of boxing injuries, qualifications for medical suspensions, and protocols for the safe return of boxers to the ring.

A U.S. Army veteran who served during the Korean War, Dr. Lathan, known by close friends at Billy, recruited and trained ringside physicians, supervised medical care at ringside, and created the NYSAC system for screening fighters (drugs, contagious illnesses, etc.). He also acted, directed, and produced plays in New York City for many years.

Dr. William Lathan, who sadly passed away this past January, and his wife, Melvina Lathan (Class of 2018), will make history as they become the first husband-wife inducted into the NYSBHOF. Melvina was a boxing judge and the first female Chairperson of the NYSAC.

“Of course, this is going to be emotional,” Melvina spoke about her husband’s induction. “He was my everything. Mentioning his Hall of Fame induction makes me smile. I’m so proud of our personal relationship. We had ultimate love and were in each other’s corner, so to speak. I want people to know that he was a simple man, generous, good, humble, and kind in every way. He was a special person. We were a team, happy to share everything, and this (induction documents that were a team.

“I was so excited when Bob Duffy called to say he was going to be inducted. I was so excited, but he was low key, and when I told him he looked at me and grinned, saying ‘That’s nice,’ and that was so him. I was so happy for him to be there (induction ceremony). I thought, how cool is that? But then came COVID and nothing happened until Bob called saying let’s do this. This (being inducted into the same HOF) is an extension of our connection.”

Melvina reports that family and friend will be in attendance and that their son, Dr. Edward. Lathan, will accept on his father’s behalf.

“It (people at the induction ceremony) is an extension of our family,” Melvina concluded. “He loved his boxing family and considered them as his family.”

Living boxers joining Savarese as Class of 2020 NYSBHOF inductees include three-time World light heavyweight title challenger Jorge Ahumada (42-8-2, 22 KOs), of Woodside, Queens by way of Argentina; (1975-78) WBC super featherweight World Champion Alfredo “El Salsero” Escalera (53-14-3, 31 KOs), of New York City by way of Puerto Rico; WBC super featherweight World title challenger Freddie “The Pitbull” Liberatore (20-4-1, 11 KOs), of Bayside, Queens; WBC middleweight World Champion and four-time New York Golden Gloves winner Dennis “The Magician” Milton (16-5-1, 5 KOs), of Bronx; and WBA super middleweight title World title challenger Merqui “El Corombo” Sosa (34-9-2, 27 KOs), of Brooklyn by way of the Dominican Republic.

Posthumous participants being inducted are Brooklyn welterweight Soldier Bartfield (51-29-8, 33 KOs), who fought a reported 55 world champions; Bronx middleweight Steve Belloise (95-13-3, 59 KOs); NYSAC and World lightweight champion (1925) Jimmy Goodrich (85-34-21 (12 KOs), of Buffalo; World heavyweight title challenger Tami Mauriello (82-13-1, 60 KOs), of Bronx; WBA light middleweight World champion (1982-83) and four-consecutive New York Golden Gloves titlist Davey “Sensational” Moore (18-5, 14 KOs), of Bronx; and World lightweight champion Freddie “The Welsh Wizard” Welch (74-5-7, 34 KOs), of New York City by way of Wales.

Living non-participants heading into the NYSBHOF are Oneida judge Don Ackerman, Wantah, Long Island journalist/producer Bobby Cassidy, Jr., Buffalo manager Rick Glaser, Rockaway Beach journalist Jack Hirsch, Bronx boxing broadcaster Max Kellerman, Orangeburg judge Julie Lederman, Hyde Park referee Ron Lipton, and Staten Island/Catskill trainer Kevin Rooney.

In addition to Dr. Lathan, posthumous non-participant inductees are Brooklyn’s Ring Magazine editor Lester Bromberg, New York City sportswriter Dan Daniel, Brooklyn’s Gleason’s Gym founder Bobby Gleason, Sunnyside, Queens boxing writer Flash Gordan, Manhattan journalist A.J. Liebling, Long Island City’s NYSBHOF co-founder Tony Mazzarella and New York City manager Dan Morgan.

There are a number of other firsts regarding some Class of 2020 inductees like daughter-father – Julie and Harold (Class of 2012) Lederman. Bobby Jr. and Bobby Cassidy, Sr. (2013) are the fourth son and father inducted into the NYSBHOF, but the first boxer/journalist combination. The others are boxers Floyd and Tracy Patterson, executive administrators Bobby and Murray Goodman, and referees Arthur, Sr. and Arthur Mercante, Jr.

Welch is going into the NYSBHOF as a boxer, but he also managed fellow Class of 2020 inductee Goodrich.

Each attending inductee will receive a custom-designed belt signifying his or her induction into the NYSBHOF.

The 2020 inductees were selected by the NYSBHOF nominating committee members: Randy Gordon, Henry Hascup, Don Majeski, Ron McNair, Jim Monteverde 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.

Tickets are priced at $150.00 per adult and $60.00 for children (under 16) and IT includes a complete brunch and cocktail hour upon entry, starting at 12:30 p.m. ET, as well as a full course dinner (prime rib, fish, or poultry) and open bar throughout the day. Tickets are available to purchase by contacting NYSBHOF president Bob Duffy at 516.313.2304 or depcomish@aol.com.