A capacity crowd packed The Diplomat Party House to honor Michael “Jinx” Spinks and Fitz “The Whip” Vanderpool at the recent 26th annual Rochester Boxing Hall of Fame (RBHOF) Banquet & Awards Night.
Spinks (31-1, 21 KOs) received the prestigious Integrity Award, while Vanderpool (26-8-4, 13 KOs) was presented the coveted Courage Award.
Rochester’s Johnny McCoy (Clarence Millard) was inducted into the Rochester Boxing Hall of Fame. McCoy (77-30-14, 21 KOs), who passed away in 1978 at the age of 81, was one of the top flyweights in the world between 1916 and 1932. He was recognized as world champion by the state of California following a tournament to determine the winner of the vacant world title relinquished by Fidel LaBarba.
“This was another memorable banquet for the Rochester Boxing Hall of Fame,” RBHOF treasurer/spokesperson Gino Arilotta said. “Everyone enjoyed the evening. We posthumously inducted Johnny McCoy and honored are award winners, Michael Spinks and Fitz Vanderpool. Hall of Famer referee Steve Smoger gave a wonderful speech. Each of these great men were so pleasant and they gladly signed hundreds of autographs and posed for so many pictures. These three humble men have my sincere respect.
“On Saturday, September 17th, we took the boxers along with Steve Smoger to a local radio station where they were interviewed on air. We also took them to one of Rochester’s super gyms, where Willie Monroe, Jr. trains. We showed them many important sites within the city. I also presented a city high school graduate, the Carmen Basilio Scholarship Award, which is awarded annually.
An International Boxing Hall of Famer (IBHOF), Spinks was the most dominant light heavyweight champion of his era, capturing the World Boxing Association (WBA), International Boxing Federation (IBF) and World Boxing Council (WBC) world titles, in addition to being a 1976 Olympic gold medalist.
Vanderpool is a former World Boxing Federation (WBF), WBC FECARBOX and Canadian welterweight champion. He took on all comers including Rochester’s only world champion, Charles “The Natural” Murray and world champion Fernando Vargas. Today, Vanderpool is a trainer in Canada who also gives countless hours of time and energy in Kitchener as a community volunteer.
Special guests in attendance included Murray (44-9, 26 KOs), a former IBF light welterweight champion, world-rated heavyweight Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller (18-0-1, 16 KOs), Rochester lightweight prospect Lavisas “Red” Williams (8-1-1, 3 KOs), Josie Basilio (widow of Hall of Famer Carmen Basilio), distinguished boxing writer Dan Cucco and Smoger, the International referee extraordinaire.
RBHOF holds monthly meetings, plus an annual picnic and Christmas party, in addition to supporting local gyms.