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Danny Lopez heads Boxing Hall of Fame class

CANASTOTA, N.Y. (AP) — Danny "Little Red" Lopez was slow and deliberate in his acceptance speech, unlike his demeanor in the ring as a champion featherweight. Longtime Associated Press boxing writer Ed Schuyler Jr. wasn't so fast for a change.

Being immortalized can have that effect.

Lopez and Schuyler were among 13 men inducted Sunday into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, capping their impressive careers.

"Getting inducted is a big honor, getting the ring and the whole shot," said Lopez, who fashioned a 42-6 record with 39 knockouts in a 10-year career. "I felt much better winning a fight in the ring, but this is comparable to it. Pretty close."

Other living inductees were: light flyweight champ Jung-Koo Chang, the first South Korean boxer to make the Hall of Fame; manager Shelly Finkel; referee and commissioner Larry Hazzard; German promoter Wilfried Sauerland; and matchmaker Bruce Trampler.

Posthumous honorees were: light heavyweight Lloyd Marshall; featherweight champion Young Corbett II; lightweight champion Rocky Kansas; heavyweight contender Billy Miske; Paddington Tom Jones, whose 20-year career began in 1786; and broadcaster Howard Cosell.

Although it didn't end in a knockout, Lopez's victory over Davey Kotey for the 1976 WBC featherweight championship remains one of his signature moments in the ring. It came in Kotey's homeland of Ghana in front of a crowd of 122,000 fans — still the second-largest crowd in the sport's history.

Lopez, who worked in a pizza parlor and baby-sat for his brother before turning pro in 1971, appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated during his heyday and was amazed to see so many copies of the magazine again during induction weekend.

"I think I'm outdoing the swimsuit edition," he said with a laugh.

Schuyler covered more than 300 world championships for AP and figures he was ringside for about 6,000 fights.

Among his favorites were the first and third Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier fights, Ali's "Rumble in the Jungle" against George Foreman, Sugar Ray Leonard-Thomas Hearns, Marvelous Marvin Hagler-Roberto Duran, and the 1976 Olympic finals in Montreal, where the United States won five gold medals and beat the Cubans head-to-head three times.

"Boxing was and always has been a writing sport. If you can't write about boxing, you should be selling shoes," said Schuyler, who earned the nickname "Fast Eddie" because of his rapid dictation from ringside during his career from 1970-2002. "I want to share this award with my father, who was the finest newspaperman and the finest man I've ever known.

"Now I'm a boxing fan right back where I started. It's forever," Schuyler said. "Someday my grandson can come up here and see it."

Cosell, who died in 1995, was not at the Ali-Frazier "Thrilla in Manila" or the "Rumble in the Jungle," yet he was a champion of the sport. He stood by Ali when Ali was stripped of his heavyweight title and forced into a three-year retirement because of his refusal to serve in the military in Vietnam.

"The boxing world was very good to us," Colin Cosell said in accepting the award for his grandfather. "With his trademark modesty, I'm sure Howard would say he was very good to the world of boxing as well — tongue in cheek, of course.

"We're humbled and thankful to know that the work that he loved doing continues to be recognized, and thanks to the International Boxing Hall of Fame his legacy lives on."

It was a landmark day for the family of Miske, who fought Jack Dempsey in 1920 while suffering from Bright's Disease (a disease of the kidneys). Despite being bedridden, Miske also insisted on one final fight in 1923 — and won it — when he had only weeks to live so he could buy Christmas presents for his kids and a piano for his wife.

"It is a great honor for the Miske family," said the fighter's grandson, Bill Miske. "We've been waiting for this for a number of years and it finally came to fruition. We're thrilled."

Induction week customarily attracts some of boxing's biggest names, and Sunday was no exception. Former champions Carmen Basilio and Billy Backus, who grew up in Canastota, shared duties of grand marshal for the annual parade, and thousands of fans cheered the likes of Gene Fullmer, Ken Norton, George Chuvalo, Leon Spinks, Nino Benvenuti, Vito Antuofermo, Buster Douglas, Livingstone Bramble, Lou Duva, and Bob Arum.

The day left a lasting impression on Chang.

"From now on, Canastota is my hometown," he said through a translator. "I'll come back every year."