MCALLEN — Some of the biggest figures from the South Texas boxing scene gathered Sunday for the inaugural Rio Grande Valley Boxing Hall of Fame induction ceremony held at the Radisson Hotel McAllen’s Bluebonnet Room.
The 2019 Induction Class included five key members from the RGV who spent years dedicated and contributing to the sport of boxing — Brownsville’s Alfredo Gomez, Harlingen’s Andrew Maynard, Weslaco’s Dr. Benjamin Salinas, and Heriberto Carr and Tomas Barrientes of Mercedes.
Former IBF light middleweight champion, U.S. Olympian and current SHOBOX analyst Raúl Márquez was one of many special guests on hand to celebrate the 2019 inductees.
“I think it’s great for boxing in the Rio Grande Valley because there’s a lot of history here. People who have put a lot of time and knowledge to help the kids that are coming up stay out of the streets and away from the bad influences in life and put them on the right path,” Márquez said. “I hope they continue doing it. These gentlemen that are being awarded, they deserve it because they’ve spent a lot of time to put Rio Grande Valley on the boxing world map.”
Salinas, 65, was inducted for his contributions as a doctor working ringside to keep fighters safe during numerous amateur and professional bouts.
“It brings satisfaction to see these kids grow up and develop into boxers and young men. It’s been a wonderful experience and I’m honored to be here as part of this first class for the RGV Boxing Hall of Fame,” Salinas said.
Gomez, a three-time Golden Gloves regional champion in 1954, 1955 and 1957, was also part of the 2019 HOF class, along with Harlingen’s Maynard, who won a gold medal as a light heavyweight at the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics.
Carr, 87, has worn many hats in the game of boxing as a coach, trainer and promoter of amateur boxing since 1977 when he opened his own boxing gym in Mercedes. He said working with younger fighters was a driving force in his dedication to the sport.”Working with kids made it all possible,” he said. “That motivated me to keep on going and the great people that I worked with. I enjoyed it since 1977, that’s when I started my club, so I’ve been officiating and coaching national tournament everywhere. It’s been great to get the knowledge and meet a lot of good people, especially here today.”
Barrientes, 49, put together a 27-11-1 record with 17 KOs as a professional and won the International Boxing Association’s world super lightweight title in 2004. He said it’s good to honor the old generation, but he’s also excited to see the younger boxers on the come up who are sure to have their day.
“I competed in the sport for 34 years, fought 200-plus fights, won a world title, so this is great,” Barrientes said. “It’s another step for the new generation coming up, we’re the old generation, but there’s some great ones coming in.”
John “The Iceman” Scully, a former world-ranked light heavyweight boxer who is an analyst for ESPN Classic, was another special guest who called the event a cherry on the sundae for the inductees who gave back to the boxing game.
“Everybody wants recognition, whether they ask for it or not, the fact is you come here, you get your award and you feel like a superstar, and for your region, you are a superstar,” said Scully, who is a member of the Connecticut Boxing Hall of Fame. “It helps local boxing, it helps to have young kids here seeing guys get their awards, and subconsciously, they want to be on that podium on day as well. It’s a beautiful thing.”