Class of 2016
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JOHN “DUKE” LAWSON
There was a time in the late 1960s when boxing was banned in Connecticut.
John “Duke” Lawson was a player in the sport’s revival.
When boxing returned to Connecticut in the early 1970s, Lawson was one of 10 referees and judges selected by Willie Pep and Chico Vejar, two members of the CBHOF, to work sanctioned bouts.
A Waterbury native who still lives in the Brass City, Lawson, 76, was involved in the fight game for 60 years. He was a judge for a world title fight in Germany between Wladimir Klitschko and Francesco Pianetta. He has been the third man in the ring for fights involving Roy Jones and Marvin Hagler, and has judged fights involving Joe Calzaghe, Chad Dawson, Antonio Tarver, and Zab Judah.
Lawson’s induction puts an exclamation point on his 60 years of service to the sport of boxing.
SEAN MALONE JR.
The expression “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” certainly applies to Sean Malone Jr. of Wallingford.
Malone’s late father is already in the Connecticut Boxing Hall of Fame, and now his son will join him. They become the third father-son duo in the CBHOF. The others are Lou Bogash and Lou Bogash Jr. and Gaspar and Michael Ortega.
Malone Jr. was a gritty competitor who never took a round off. His most memorable performance came in October of 1993. He David Santos, who was 19-2 at the time, for the vacant NABF super lightweight title. Santos got all he could handle for 11 rounds before emerging victorious.
Malone’s most notable win came when he defeated Greg Cadiz in 1992 for the Nevada State light welterweight title. He also defeated Pat Ireland in 1993 for the New England light welterweight title. Malone had a final record of 23-6 with 21 knockouts.
Malone is giving back to the game by training fighters, something his dad did. He is following his dad’s footsteps again, this time into the Connecticut Boxing Hall of Fame.
Montalvo and his wife Sandra came to Stamford in 1980 and got right down to the business of training amateurs. For their first 20 years, they taught in parks around the city and in their backyard, then spent seven at Union Memorial Church.
Montalvo was an amateur and professional boxer in Puerto Rico, where he and Sandra are from, and traveled around the world competing. In 1976, he ran with the Olympic torch for the Pan Americans and won the bronze medal in boxing for Puerto Rico.
As an amateur boxer, he competed in 125 fights, winning 110. Later as a professional boxer, he competed in 29 fights, winning 22. Montalvo became the No. 10 contender of among junior middleweights in the world.
Montalvo was recently notified that he would be installed in Puerto Rico’s Amateur Boxing Hall of Fame. Most would be thrilled to be inducted into one Hall of Fame. With his CBHOF induction, Montalvo will complete a rare daily double.
“SUCRA” RAY OLIVEIRA
No one ever went to the concession stand during a Ray Oliveira fight. He was known as “Sucra,” but perhaps his middle name should have been “Action.” There was never a dull moment in an Oliveira fight.
He set a record in a bout with Zack Padilla when Compubox recorded over 1,000 punches between the two boxers. That was one of many fights in Connecticut for the New Bedford, Mass., native.
Oliveira had a 15-year professional career in the ring with notable victories over Vince Phillips, Vivian Harris, Tracy Spann, and twice over Charles Murray. The win over Spann gave Oliverira the IBF Intercontinental super lightweight title. The first win over Murray gave him the NABF super lightweight title.
Oliveira had never been stopped prior to his defeat to Ricky Hatton in a WBU light welterweight title challenge in 2004.
Oliveira finished his career with a 47-11-2 record, a record certainly worth of induction into the CBHOF.
Perhaps other than Muhammad Ali, not many people associated with boxing are regarded as great humanitarians.
But Ali is now in good company in the person of Kenneth Reels.
In 2009, Reels was appointed to the Mashuntucket Pequot Gaming & Athletic commission, where he has overseen the regulation of boxing and MMA. He is known for caring about the health and safety of fighters. He followed CBHOF inductee Peter Timothy as its commissioner. Reels is currently a member of the CBHOF board of directors.
It’s his many humanitarian pursuits, however, that make Reels stand out. He has received the State of Connecticut Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Commission’s Humanitarian Award for his commitment to human values, interests and concerns. He has been named “Man of the Year” by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation for being a role model and for his commitment to the health and well being of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe.
Reels has also received the Tribal Leadership Award from the Henry C. Lee Institute of Forensic Science’s Annual Arnold Markel Symposium, and the Kappa Achievement Award for Professional Accomplishment and Outstanding Service to the Greater Hartford Community.
Reels is certainly is a classy addition to the Connecticut Boxing Hall of Fame.
A great athlete while growing up in Newington, Bob Yalen would eventually make boxing his career pursuit.
That turned out to be good news for boxing.
Yalen, who has an encyclopedic knowledge of the sport, was once the Director of Boxing for both ABC and ESPN back in the day when networks televised the sport on a regular basis. He has also been a consultant for NBC, CBS, Fox, and Showtime, and produced the boxing coverage at the 1996 and 2000 Olympics for NBC Sports.
Yalen has had an association with the World Boxing Council for over 30 years. He is presently the Technical Director for the WBC, and chairs or is a member of numerous committees including the Ratings, Officials, and Clean Boxing Program committees. He is also on the WBC Board of Governors.
Yalen was associate editor for the Ring Record Book and the FightFax Record Book. He was once honored with the Sam Taub Award for Excellence in Broadcasting given by BWAA, and is a six-time Sports Emmy Award winner.
Yalen is also an elector for the International Boxing Hall of Fame and a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, both since their inceptions, and prides himself on his record-keeping and work on boxing in Connecticut since the late 1800’s.
Yalen was the Director of Sports & Entertainment at Mohegan Sun, during which time he was one of the original board members of the Connecticut Boxing Hall of Fame, contributing mightily to the success of the inaugural dinner.
A UConn graduate, Yalen now spends a bulk of his time working with the World Boxing Council, a job that has taken him all over the world, including recent visits to China and Russia.
But it will be in his home state of Connecticut where Yalen’s Hall of Fame plaque will hang.