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For decades the boxing community looked on with envy as legends from other sports were inducted into their respective halls of fame. The shrines to baseball, football and basketball are located in the ancestrial homes to those sports. But boxing has no such geographical origin.
Although organized pugilism as we know it originated in England, the sport's epicenter moved across to America around the same time that the sun began to set on Queen Victoria's empire.
Begining with the reign of heavyweight champion John L. Sullivan more than a century ago, professional boxing champions have been among the most celebrated athletes in history. And the epic championship battles they waged can be found on the annual lists of top sports stories. But for years there was no structure or independent entity to chronicle and perserve boxing's rich history.
The idea for a boxing hall of fame germinated out of a town's love for one, and later two, of its hometown boys who became World champions. In 1982, residents of Canastota, N.Y., decided to honor former welterweight and middleweight champion of the late-1950s, Carmen Basilio, and his nephew, Billy Backus, who won the World welterweight title in 1970. The townspeople raised funds for a showcase that would celebrate the achievements their two local heroes.
The success and enthusiasm for that project encouraged Canastotians to explore the possibility of establishing boxing's first hall of fame and museum. That project was completed in 1989, when two dozen former champions witnessed the ribbon cutting ceremony of the International Boxing Hall of Fame. And, a year later the first class of boxing legends, including Muhammad Ali, were on hand to recieve their long overdue enshrinement. Since then, the IBHOF, under the leadership of Executive Director, Ed Brophy, has added one wing to the Museum and an event pavilion adjacent to the Hall. The Hall of Fame holds annual induction ceremonies in early June as the highlight of a four-day celebration of boxing and its legends.