Thursday, April 22, 2010

Aris Pina remembers Hank
When I think of Hank, I remember a man that was unselfish, respected by all and always, and I mean always there to sit down and talk with you if you had a question about the sweet science. Hank was a person who had a deep passion for the sport of boxing and dedicated his life to preserving it's rich history and always keeping the memories alive for boxing's "forgotten members". Each year when the International Boxing Hall of Fame's induction weekend would come up, Hank would mention such forgotten greats such as Holman Williams, Lloyd Marshall, Cocoa Kid, Gaspar Ortega, and Eddie Booker just to name a few because he knew they deserved the admiration from the boxing world and was determined that they be treated with the same reverence as names such as Robinson, Ali, Marciano, his hero Jack Dempsey and so on.

One thing I will always remember about Hank was how he took to me, I was a wet between the ears 18 year old kid when I first met Hank back in 2003 at the Hall of Fame weekend, and after being introduced to him at a fight show, I made i a point to at least ask a question to him later that day, not only was I able to ask him a question, he invited me to sit with him and we chatted for a few hours! He didn't have to do that, but it was just his nature, he saw a young person that had a passion for the sport, and for that he would always make time. Over the years Hank would always remember who I was and each year he would bring me to his hotel room where he would give me a package of various items that he brought from his collection of which I will always cherish. In 2006 I had the honor of having a article about me featured on, and Hank was interviewed about it, he mentioned that he thought I was curious with a thirst for knowledge and that he would follow my work in the years to come. The fact that the man who was known as the foremost boxing historian in the world would be following my work was an honor and something that I will forever hold dear to me.

Hank was my mentor, an inspiration for the sport, a friend and legend to the sport of boxing, and something that I will always cherish and proud to say, he was a friend of mine. We are lucky to have his collection preserved at Brooklyn College to keep his legacy alive and to educate future generations of boxing fans on it's storied past, which is exactly what Hank wanted.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Jeff Julian's Memories of Hank
Hank Kaplan
devoted much of his life to boxing and preserving its history. Considered the preeminent source for anything to do with boxing's long and colorful history, he was widely sought after for his boxing knowledge and expertise.

He wore many hats during his long years associated with the "sweet science" -- fighter (he had one pro fight, which he won), publicist, writer, promoter, consultant, archivist, and historian. When the International Boxing Hall of Fame was first founded in 1989, Hank was instrumental in sharing his wealth of knowledge with the museum. He served as the chairman of the Hall of Fame's Induction Committee and was finally convinced to step down from that role in 2006 so that he would be eligible for induction -- and honor many in boxing felt was long overdue. He was also inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 1994 and was a recipient of the prestigious James J. Walker award for long and meritorious service from the Boxing Writers Association of America in 2003.

Hank always had a deep respect and affinity for those men who climbed through the ropes and into the glory and loneliness of the ring -- whether it was boxing legends or unknown journeymen who never gained fame of fortune. He helped many fighters over the years, both in person and in keeping the memory alive of those who might otherwise be forgotten. For many years, he brought the late boxing greats Beau Jack and Kid Gavilan along with hom from Florida to the annual Boxing Hall of Fame weekend in Canasota. Because of Hank, these two great former champions were given the opportunity to relive their glory years among true boxing fans and peers, even if only for a weekend. That was so typical of the unselfishness and devotion of Hank Kaplan.

A modest and gracious man, he was well liked and respected by everyone who had the pleasure to know him. I, personally, was honored to call him a friend.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What a birth certificate...
Mimi Lester an archivist working on the Kaplan Collection made this discovery. A hardcore boxing fan chooses twenty-five first names for his daughter, all of them heavyweight champs. At only five pounds at birth this girl is not yet quite a heavyweight. But who knows what her future holds?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

This November will be 4 years since Willie Pep (born Guglielmo Papaleo) died (Nov. 23, 2006). 36 years before his actual departure from this world, there were rumors of his passing on the other side of the Atlantic. May 15, 1970 issue of Boxing News (formerly Boxing), ran an insert on page 13 about this "rumour".

Monday, April 5, 2010

The editorial of 13 August 1919 issue of Boxing (a.k.a. Boxing News, this is the last time I am writing this) included a story, which shows that a certain practice in modern times, i.e. the crazed fanaticism often exhibited by a horde of teenagers following any famous super-star, goes back 100 years. Moreover, if today you only see teenage girls drooling over a poster portraying a member of their favorite boy band, in the 1900s the fans of a famous personality, in this instance a boxer, included women and men, young and old. Read the story of OLAD (Operation: Let's Ambush Dempsey, ok ok, I made this one up), where the presence of a boxing champion caused a crowd to act in such a manner that a witness is forced to call them "boot-licks." And you thought your grandma was boring...