by Austin Killeen Photos by Jose Castillo (click on picture to enlarge)
The 2017 New Mexico Boxing Hall of Fame awards dinner was held on October 28, 2017, at the Embassy Suites Hotel, 1000 Woodward Place NE Albuquerque, New Mexico. Master of Ceremonies was Ed Nunez the co-host of “On the Mic with Mike Adams” on 610 am the Sports Animal. Attendance was a sellout at 207 guests coming from as far away as California, Texas and Colorado. Special guests were bantamweight Angelo “El Chinito” Leo (10-0-0, 6 KO’s) of Las Vegas, NV, Angel Perez a member of the US Olympic Training Team, fighting at 132 lbs. of Albuquerque, featherweight Jose “Nachito” Osorio (9-3-1, 4 KO’s) of Albuquerque, flyweight Mathew “Diamond Boy” Griego (7-0-0, 6 KO’s) of Albuquerque, and Abraham Perez 2017 state golden gloves titlist at 114 pounds from Albuquerque.
The gourmet dinner was provided by Chef Tony Hilty, the executive chef for the Embassy Suites Hotel.
This year’s inductees in order of presentation:
Mike Adams, introduced by his daughter Alyssa, was born in Huntington Park, California, and moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico as a young boy. Mike graduated from the University of New Mexico in the early 90s. He had the opportunity to do some commentating on high school basketball and it would lead to his first break in his expanding role as an announcer. Mike was hired to do a two hour sports show on radio. The format included all sports, but primarily boxing. The weekend show proved to be a success and led to his next big break when he was asked to be a ring announcer at a local fight card. Over the past twenty five years Mike has broadcast college basketball, track and field for the WAC, auto racing out at San Felipe, and play by play announcer for the Albuquerque Thunder Birds which is the NBA’s ‘B’ league team. Whatever sport he announces his work is impeccable. Both Michael Buffer and Jimmy Lennon, Jr. have had a big influence on Adams. Instead of trying to imitate Buffer or Lennon, Jr., he studies the structure of their presentation. As a result watching him work at a sporting event, you know you’re in the presence of an original; not a knockoff. Mike considers himself fortunate to have been around a lot of sports with boxing and basketball being his first loves. In speaking with Mike it was obvious that his older brother Art played a big role in his love of sports.
Luis Chavez was introduced by his cousin Angelo Leo. Luis came to the United States from Chihuahua, Mexico as a teenager. Like many of his cousins before him, he settled in Grants, New Mexico. There was work to be had if you were willing to work 3,500 below the surface of the earth digging for uranium. The work was hard, but you never had to worry about getting sunburn. Like many young men in the area, Luis discovered boxing, competing in the amateurs from the early sixties to the early seventies. Talking to boxers from that era it is nothing to find fighters with over 100 plus bouts on their record. Luis was the exception because of his employment in the mines, he usually only competed during the golden gloves tournament. Although Luis had fewer bouts than most of his competitors, he faced some stiff competition. On his dance card was Ray Thorogood of Santa Fe and Leroy Piper of Las Cruces, two of the top amateurs in the state. Upon retiring he started training boxers, both pro and amateur. Some of the better known names include Danny Romero, Frankie Archuleta, Mathew Baca and Angelo Leo. Although I don’t know how many trophies he won during his boxing career, Luis captured first prize when he married his beautiful wife of forty-nine years, Alicia.
Sergio Chavez was introduced by his friend Mike Adams. Sergio came to the United States as a young boy with his parents Rosa and Edmund to find a better life. Sergio’s parents instilled in him the belief that he could achieve the American Dream if he was willing to work for it. The Chavez family wasn’t rich in terms of material possessions, but Sergio was rich in terms of the love and time both his parents showered him with. The Chavez family settled in Grants, New Mexico where they had relatives who had made the same journey years earlier. Along with his brothers, Sergio discovered boxing at an early age. He applied the knowledge that his parents had instilled in him; that if he was willing to work hard he could achieve anything. He estimates that he had approximately 200 amateur bouts under the tutelage of four trainers; including his older cousin Luis Chavez and Henry Anaya Sr. Twice Sergio was able to qualify for the national golden gloves tournament and had opportunities to turn pro. Instead he decided to work with youngsters giving his time as adults had given their time to him. Today he is a successful trainer and cut man in professional boxing and MMA. Judging from his lovely wife and beautiful home, Rosa and Edmund must be proud that their little boy has achieved the American Dream.
Charles “Poison” Anaya had some serious boxing pedigree in his DNA when he started boxing. His dad is Charles Anaya Sr. one of the top trainers in the state. His big brother Henry Anaya Jr. made some serious waves in the welterweight division in the late 80’s early 90’s. I’m not sure Charles was aware of these facts when he walked down the aisle for his first amateur bout, at the age of four. Henry Jr. estimates that his little brother had close to one hundred and fifty amateur fights before turning pro. During his amateur days he won the NM golden gloves, regional silver mittens and the prestigious Ray Lewis tournament in Arizona. Turning pro Anaya was brought along carefully, as all prospects are, building a record of (5-0-1, 3 KO’s). In his seventh bout he faced a beast in undefeated Brandon Mitchem in California. Mitchem a former U.S. Olympian proved to be too big a step up for Anaya, who lost by a third round TKO on a nationally televised bout. In the final bout of his career he faced hometown rival Rudy “Bad Boy” Lovato outdoors at the Coca-Cola Pavilion. Partisan fans of both boxers filled the venue witnessing a wild contest with both fighters having their moments. The contest was halted in the ninth round when Lovato was hit in the shoulder with a half filled soda bottle. Fearing a riot, the score cards were tallied through the first eight rounds and the verdict was announced the next day in the Albuquerque Journal; winner by Technical Decision Lovato. Anaya’s demanding day job in construction drained him of the energy needed to train properly as a professional. Sadly Anaya passed away two years later from complication due to heart problems. He was survived by his lovely wife Renee and three beautiful children, Raeann, Mariah and Joseph. Charles Anaya’s family will accept his award posthumously.
Earl Large was introduced by Hall of Fame members Juan Nunez and Rocky Burke. Earl fought professionally from 1968 to 1979, facing some of the top boxers in his era. During that time, he entered the ring fifty-nine times compiling a record of (39-17-2, 17 KO’s) including two bouts with bantamweight champion Chucho Castillo and one against lightweight champion Sean O’Grady. Among the top pros he faced were: Derrik Holmes, Javier Flores, James Martinez (3 times), Fernando Cabanela, Sean O’Grady, Francisco Villages, Dave Needham, Tony Rocha, Bert Nabalatan, Chucho Castillo (2 times), and Edmundo Esparza. The description of his second fight with former bantamweight champion Chucho Castillo is a compelling reason enough for placing Earl Large into the New Mexico Boxing Hall of Fame.
As an amateur Earl Large was 1967 National AAU bantamweight champion and twice National Golden Gloves bantamweight champion; 1967 and 1968.
Chris Linson was introduced by his son Chris Linson, Jr. Chris fought professionally from 1979 to 1984 facing some of the biggest names during that time. His professional record was (11-6-0, 10 KO’s) including a bout with light-heavyweight champion, Bobby Czyz and super- welterweight champion, Mark Medal. Among the top pros he faced were; Rocky Fratto, Graylin Curry, Rocky Mosley, Jr., Victor Martinez and Al Clay.
A summary of his amateur accomplishments are listed below.
- Won 3 state Silver gloves titles for New Mexico
- 1974: won silver at the National Junior Olympics
- February 1975: won Mexico-Southwest Champions bout
- March 1975: New Mexico State GG Championship, 119 lbs.
- July 1975: won National AAU, at South Dakota 125 lbs (beat Bernard Mays by kayo in semis, Mays turned pro and went on to be a top middleweight in the 1980’s)
- January 1977: Won National PAL Title, at Cincinnati (second PAL title)
- February1977: Won Regional GG championship at Albuquerque, NM, 132 lbs.
- March 1977: New Mexico State GG Championship, 132 lbs.
Guest speakers were boxing trainer Fidel Maldonado and his son Fidel Maldonado, Jr. Fidel Jr. boxes professionally and has appeared on television on many occasions. They were asked a series of questions regarding their boxing experiences, including how they respond to a devastating loss. They proved to be very candid in their answers, never evading a difficult question.
Jerry Martinez, Juan Nunez and Colleen Aycock received special awards for their meritorious service and contributions to the organization and continued improvement of the New Mexico Boxing Hall of Fame.
President Juan Nunez Introduced President-Elect Austin Killeen. The final event of the evening was a memorial ten count for honoree Charles Anaya and others members of New Mexico’s boxing community who have passed.