The International Boxing Hall of Fame released the ballot for the Class of 2020 Tuesday afternoon, the first that reflected several changes in the voting protocol that were approved by the IBHOF’s Board of Directors in April.
The first, the reduction of the waiting period for eligibility from five years to three years, resulted in an influx of superstars that retired not just in 2014 but also in 2015 and 2016, while a second reform introduced two categories for female boxers – the Trailblazers for those athletes whose final fight came no later than 1988 and the Modern category for women who retired in 1989 and later. A third reform resulted in a massive reshuffling of the Non-Participant and Observer ballots in which names that had been on the ballot for 10 or more years were temporarily removed in favor of many new names that will get their first chance before the voters. For the electorate – members of the Boxing Writers Association of America and selected non-members of the BWAA who will be charged with determining the Modern class, as well as a panel of historians from Japan, England, Canada, Italy, South Africa, Germany, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the United States who will tackle the Old Timer, Non-Participant, Observer, Trailblazer and female Modern ballots – the challenge will not be for whom to vote, but rather who to leave off.
In most years, the Modern ballot would have replaced only the three slots vacated by 2019 inductees Donald Curry, Julian Jackson and James “Buddy” McGirt, but thanks to the new three-year retirement requirement and the temporary removal of several longstanding ballot entrants, 12 new names were added to the 2020 ballot. They are – in alphabetical order – Jorge Arce, Timothy Bradley, Vuyani Bungu, Joel Casamayor, Diego Corrales, Carl Froch, Bernard Hopkins, Sergio Martinez, Juan Manuel Marquez, Shane Mosley, Antonio Tarver and Israel Vazquez. Hopkins, Marquez and Mosley will grab most of the attention (and probably many of the votes) thanks to their star power and historic achievements, but, thanks to another change in the procedure, the Modern Class of 2020 could well be larger than the usual three. That’s because any fighter who earns at least 80 percent of the vote will earn automatic enshrinement and, depending on the way the votes are distributed, four or even five Modern boxers could be giving speeches next June.
Including holdovers Yuri Arbachakov, Paulie Ayala, Nigel Benn, Ivan Calderon, Sot Chitalada, Chris Eubank, Leo Gamez, Ricky Hatton, Genaro Hernandez, Chris John, Mikkel Kessler, Santos Laciar, Rocky Lockridge, Miguel Lora, Rafael Marquez, Henry Maske, Dariusz Michalczewski, Sung Kil Moon, Michael Moorer, Orzubek Nazarov, Sven Ottke, Vinny Paz, Gilberto Roman, Gianfranco Rosi, Samuel Serrano, Meldrick Taylor, Fernando Vargas, Wilfredo Vazquez Sr. and Ratanapol Sor Vorapin, the Modern ballot for 2020 will bear 41 names. Electors can affix a maximum of five checkmarks and, thanks to the “80 percent rule,” no one will know how many will be enshrined until the official announcement in early December.
Speaking of Benn, last week’s announcement of his ring return against former 168-pound titlist Sakio Bika after a 23-year retirement presents an interesting question for some: If “The Dark Destroyer” goes through with the fight, how would it affect his Hall of Fame candidacy? The answer: It won’t. The voting process for the Class of 2020 will have already ended by the time he steps inside the ring November 23 in Birmingham, and if he had earned enough votes for election by the end of the voting process on October 31, he’ll be inducted, plain and simple.
The most popular additions to the slate are the two female categories. The roster of “Trailblazers” number five – Barbara Buttrick, Cathy “Cat” Davis, Phyllis Kugler, Jackie Tonawanda and Marian “Tyger” Trimar – while 12 fighters make up the Modern ballot: Laila Ali, Christy Martin, Lucia Rijker, Ann Wolf, Sumya Anani, Regina Halmich, Holly Holm, Susi Kentikian, Jisselle Salandy, Mary Jo Sanders, Laura Serrano and Ana Maria Torres. For the Trailblazers, voters can choose one candidate – with one being enshrined – while for the Moderns, electors can pick a maximum of three. And while the top two vote-getters will gain enshrinement, the “80 percent rule” could increase the final total to three.
As has been the case for several years, the slate for the Old Timers category has alternated between the “Early Era” Old-Timers (whose final fights occurred between 1893 and 1942) and the “Late Era” Old Timers (whose careers concluded between 1943 and 1988). This year, voters will be considering the earlier group of boxers, and the “newest” name on the list is Percy Jones, the first Welshman to win a major boxing championship when he dethroned world flyweight champion Bill Ladbury in 1914 and who boasted a record of 50-3-3 (31 KOs) between 1911 and 1916. This year’s Old Timers ballot will have 50 names, with voters given a maximum of five choices. One will be enshrined.
The most intriguing – and unpredictable – ballots will be the Non-Participant and Observers, the ballots which received the most sweeping overhauls. While the names that were removed following 10 unsuccessful voting cycles could be returned to the ballot following a one-year hiatus, the depth and breadth of the new candidates is extraordinary.
Twenty-four new names were added to the Non-Participant ballot: Kenny Adams (trainer), Rodney Berman (promoter), Freddie Brown (cut man), Bill Caplan (publicist), Miguel Diaz (trainer/cutman), Lou DiBella (promoter), Cameron Dunkin (manager), Kathy Duva (promoter), Duane Ford (judge); Al Gavin (cut man); Harry Gibbs (referee); Brad Goodman (matchmaker), Dr. Margaret Goodman (ringside physician), Dan Goossen (promoter), Chuck Hull (ring announcer), Brendan Ingle (trainer), Sampson Lewkowicz (manager/promoter), Jackie McCoy (manager/trainer); Dave Moretti (judge), Carlos Padilla (referee), Abel Sanchez (trainer), Fritz Sdunek (trainer), Francisco “Paco” Valcarcel (administrator) and Ulli Wegner (trainer). Including holdovers Ted Broadribb (manager), Charles E. “Parson” Davies (Manager), Francois Deschamps (manager), Dai Dollings (trainer), John Fleming (manager/promoter) and Gilberto Mendoza Sr. (administrator), the ballot will have 30 names. Electors can vote for up to five and the top three vote-getters will be inducted.
The Observers ballot for the Class of 2020 features 19 first-timers: Seth Abraham (television executive), Eric Armit (journalist/record-keeper), Ron Borges (journalist), Bob Canobbio (statistician), Tom Casino (photographer), Percy Dana (photographer), David Dinkins Jr. (television producer), Bernard Fernandez (journalist), Thomas Hauser (journalist), Hype Igoe (cartoonist/journalist), Carlos Irusta (journalist), George Kimball (journalist), Jay Larkin (television executive), Glyn Leach (editor), Dr. Ferdie Pacheco (broadcaster), Shirley Povich (columnist), Tim Ryan (broadcaster), John Sheppard (record-keeper) and Alex Wallau (broadcaster). Along with the six holdovers (journalist George Almy, historian Victor Cota, cartoonist Ham Fisher, journalist/broadcaster Ray Mitchell, columnist Eddie Muller and broadcaster Juan Carlos Tapia), the Observers ballot will have 25 names. Electors can vote for up to five and the top two vote-getters will earn enshrinement.
The 2020 International Boxing Hall of Fame Induction Weekend is scheduled for June 11-14.
Lee Groves is a boxing writer and historian based in Friendly, West Virginia. He is a full member of the BWAA, from which he has won 18 writing honors, including first-place awards in 2011 and 2013. He has been an elector for the International Boxing Hall of Fame since 2001 and is also a writer, researcher and punch-counter for CompuBox, Inc. He is the author of “Tales from the Vault: A Celebration of 100 Boxing Closet Classics” (available on Amazon) and the co-author of “Muhammad Ali: By the Numbers” (also available on Amazon). To contact Groves, use the email [email protected] or send him a message via Facebook.
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