In Canastota, N.Y., the International Boxing Hall of Fame inducted 53 charter members, including Muhammad Ali, Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Sugar Ray Robinson, Archie Moore and Jake LaMotta.
"It's a great feeling," said ex-champion Bob Foster, who dominated the light heavyweight division between 1968 and 1974. "You go through all those battles for so many years. This is what it's for. A lot of fighters will never feel what I'm feeling today."
The inductees, in four categories, were selected by a panel of 110 boxing historians and members of the Boxing Writers Association. Fighters must be retired five years to be eligible.
John L. Sullivan was among five inductees chosen in the pioneer category, which is made up of bare-knuckle boxers who fought before 1892, when professional boxing began under the Queensbury Rules. The old-timer category comprised 21 fighters whose careers came between 1893 and 1942, including Jack Dempsey, James J. "Gentleman Jim" Corbett, Bob Fitzsimmons and Jack Johnson, who became the first black heavyweight champion in 1907 and held the title until 1915. There also is a nonparticipant category for trainers, managers, etc.
The modern era inductees included Ali, the only man to win the heavyweight title three times; Willie Pep, who holds the professional boxing record with 230 victories; Henry Armstrong, the only boxer to hold title in three divisions simultaneously; and Kid Gavilan, who invented the "bolo punch."