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Newz Forum: BOXING: Boxing champ Palomino goes soft as enters hall of fame

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posted on Jun, 14 2004 @ 10:03 AM
CANASTOTA, N.Y. (AP) - Former welterweight champion Carlos Palomino couldn't hide his emotions Sunday as he was enshrined in the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Palomino was overcome several times, his voice often cut off as he gave thanks to his parents and family for helping him become a boxing champion as more than 2,000 boxing fans looked on.

The former welterweight champion - who became equally famous in a Miller Lite beer commercial - was among seven living boxers and ring personalities inducted Sunday. Another eight were enshrined posthumously.

The 2004 induction class included featherweight Azumah Nelson of Ghana, light heavyweight Dwight Muhammad Qawi of the United States, and bantamweight Daniel Zaragoza of Mexico. Also enshrined were promoter J. Russell Peltz and South African referee Stanley Christodoulou.

Palomino described his childhood in a poor, crime-ridden section of San Luis, Mexico, and said his parents saved him and his 10 siblings from drugs and the gangs that controlled his neighborhood.

"My dad was my strength. My mother was my heart," said Palomino, a world welterweight champion from 1976-1979.

After the ceremony, showing off his ring to his two grown daughters, Palomino said he always finds it hard to talk about his parents, especially his father, without becoming emotional. It was his father who steered him from baseball to boxing and made him spar in the backyard with one of his four brothers.

"He would tell me one day I would be champion of the world. He would tell me all the time. He got me so I started believing it myself," Palomino said.

Palomino won the WBC welterweight crown in 1976 and successfully defended it seven times before losing the crown in 1979 to Hall of Famer Wilfred Benitez. He had a career record of 31-4-3 with 19 knockouts.

Palomino began boxing competitively in the Army and in 1972 won the national AAU championship, defeating eventual Olympic champ Sugar Ray Seales.

Six months after being dethroned by Benitez, Palomino lost to Roberto Duran and retired at 30.

His father died in 1995, spurring a brief comeback in 1997-98. He won four of five bouts before retiring for good.

Palomino now coaches young fighters in the Los Angeles area. He also took up acting. He has appeared on "Taxi" and other TV sitcoms as well as in supporting roles in about 20 films.

Palomino was inducted in the modern-era category, along with Nelson, Qawi and Zaragoza.

Nelson, of Ghana, was a world featherweight and super featherweight champ from 1984-94. He had a 39-5-2 record, with 28 KOs.

A six-member presidential delegation from Ghana attended the ceremony to watch Nelson's induction, which he called "the greatest moment in the history in the saga of African boxing."

Zaragoza won the Mexican bantamweight title in 1982 and successfully defended it 10 times. He held world bantamweight or super bantamweight championships five times between 1985-97. He finished with a record of 55-8-3, with 28 KOs.

"This is an amazing victory," Zaragoza said, his oldest son translating for him. "This is a certain victory. Not even death can take this away from me. There is no more defeat."

Qawi, known as Dwight Braxton until his conversion to Islam in 1982, won world lightweight and cruiserweight titles in the mid-1980s. His record was 41-11-1 with 25 KOs.

Qawi said his induction was "closure" for his boxing career, which he extended with a couple comebacks.

"Too many times fighters hold onto the past. A lot of athletes do that," Qawi said.

"I really need this in my life. I need this ... to say to me it's over. You did your best. You did all you could do. You gave it what you had. Then move on," he told the crowd.

The hall of fame also inducted writer W.C. Heinz, 89. Heinz, who lives in Vermont, did not attend because of his age and was represented by his daughter.


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