PRESS RELEASE – August 29, 2017 – Illinois Boxing Hall of Fame announces 2017 Inductees

Chicago, IL – Mike McNamara, Director of the Illinois Boxing Hall of Fame, announced the Hall’s 2017 class of inductees today.

As was the case with the Hall’s first two classes in 2015 and 2016, this year’s inductees include a wide range of participants and contributors to boxing in Illinois.  They are:

Ernie Brown – Huge contributor to the local boxing scene as a manager, official, trainer, and promotor

Dr. Glenn Bynum – Ring doctor and former president of the Illinois Golden Gloves

Pat Coleman – Rockford’s hard-hitting Pat “The Cat” Coleman compiled a 29-17 record with 20 KO’s, won the Illinois State Middleweight title and fought for the Illinois State Super Welterweight, the California Middleweight and the NABF Welterweight Titles

Mauro Di Fiore – fighter, top trainer, and one of the busiest boxing judges in the world

Kenny Gould – “The Candy Man’ is one of Rockford’s best, compiling a 26-2 record as a welterweight with 15 knockouts after winning an Olympic Bronze Medal.  He also won a Gold Medal at the Pan-Am Games

Fernando Hernandez – a durable, fearless super welterweight who held the Illinois State title and fought for the WBA Intercontinental, the WBA Fedelatin, and the NABA Super Welterweight titles.

George Hernandez – legendary Head Trainer at the Garfield Park/Chicago Park District boxing program who has trained countless amateur and professional champions

Mike Jankovich – one of Chicago’s busiest boxers in the mid-90’s, he compiled a 19-0-1 as a welterweight

Bill Lerch – amateur champion, manager, trainer, cornerman, and eventually a judge, working championship fights around the world featuring many of the world’s best

Rocky Martinez – 40-12-1 super lightweight from Chicago who fought the world’s best. Martinez won the Illinois State title and the WBO Latino title.  He also fought for the WBU World, WBO World, WBC International, and the IBC World Super Lightweight titles

Sam Merza – Hard-hitting Middleweight “Homicidal” Sammy Merza compiled a 16-1 record as a pro with 12 knockouts.  He went on to become a successful promotor.

Anwar Oshana – “The Assyrian Bull” a solid 25-3 pro who held both the Illinois State and IBF Regional titles at Super Middleweight
Posthumous: Ben Bentley – Ring Announcer, Promotor, Matchmaker, and television personality, best known for his long run on The Sportswriters on WGN TV

Johnny Bratton – one of the world’s busiest fighters from the mid 1940’s through the mid 50’s, Johnny “Honey Boy” Bratton won the World Welterweight title on the way to a 60-24-3 record with 34 KO’s

Nate Bolden – rated one of Chicago’s 10 best all-time fighters, Bolden fought and beat the best of his era in the 30’s and 40’s but never got a title shot.  He compiled a 61-35-5 record.

Richie Guerrero – one of Illinois’ greatest amateurs, winner of hundreds of amateur bouts who, after a short pro career (7-1), became a top trainer with the Chicago Park District

Jack Johnson – the first African-American Heavyweight Champion, a true legend in the sport

Herbert Muhammed – Longtime manager of “The Greatest” Muhammad Ali and Co-Founder of Top Rank Boxing.

The inductees will be read into the Hall, Saturday September 30 at the Hall’s Third Annual Banquet and Ceremony at Abbington Banquets, 3S002 IL-53, Glen Ellyn, IL 60137 near Butterfield Road and Route 53, in suburban Chicago.

The Illinois Boxing Hall of Fame is an outgrowth of the successful 14-year-old Illinois Martial Arts Hall of Fame.  McNamara, an accomplished kickboxer, tournament fighter, and trainer of former ISKA World Cruiserweight Kickboxing Champion Rob Salazar, is Director of the Martial Arts Hall.

This year marks the third year of the Hall’s existence, following its first two hugely successful events in the past two years.

According to McNamara “The Illinois Boxing Hall of Fame continues to try to recognize the very best contributors to the rich 150-year history of boxing in Illinois.  As our first two events in 2015 and 2016 have showed us, the Illinois boxing scene continues to be vibrant.
“We’ve sold out the past two events, each at more than 400 seats,” said Co-Director Pete Hoffman.  “We expect a similar crowd this year.  It is always a great evening!”

The genesis of the idea for the Hall came when the Illinois Martial Arts Hall of Fame began to induct boxers six years ago, as that Hall’s Directors considered boxing a fighting art.  Those boxing inductees were extremely appreciative but they also pointed out that despite the rich history of boxing in Illinois, there was no Illinois Boxing Hall of Fame and “they suggested to us that we start it and run it,” says McNamara.

The Illinois Boxing Hall of Fame is dedicated to honoring people from Illinois and/or who participated in or contributed to Boxing in Illinois.  Its Third Annual banquet and induction Ceremony will be held Saturday, September 30, 2017 at Abbington Banquets, 3S002 IL-53, Glen Ellyn, IL 60137 near Butterfield Road and Route 53.  The event starts at 6PM with a social hour, followed by dinner at 7PM, and the ceremony at 8PM.

For tickets and more information about the event, contact Illinois Boxing Hall of Fame Director Mike McNamara at 708-473-0682 or at  Tickets will not be sold at the door, so please reserve your tickets in advance.

For information about sponsoring the event, including advertising in the printed program, contact CoDirector Pete Hoffman at 708-267-8154 or