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Vitali Klitschko and Erik Morales win election to Boxing HOF

FILE - In this July 31, 2004, file photo, Erik Morales, of Mexico, poses with the IBF and WBC super featherweight belts after winning a unification bout over Carlos Hernandez via unanimous decision at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. (Amy Beth Bennett / Associated Press)
FILE - In this July 31, 2004, file photo, Erik Morales, of Mexico, poses with the IBF and WBC super featherweight belts after winning a unification bout over Carlos Hernandez via unanimous decision at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. (Amy Beth Bennett / Associated Press)
By John Kekis Associated Press

CANASTOTA, N.Y. – Three years after he threw his hat back into the political ring for good, former heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko achieved the ultimate honor for his time in that other ring – selection to the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

“It’s a dream of many boxers to be a member of the Hall of Fame family,” Klitschko, now the mayor of Kiev, Ukraine, said in a statement from the Hall of Fame. “I’ve thought about the Hall of Fame, but I never expected one day that I would be among the legends who were always examples for me. It’s a big honor.”

Klitschko was one of nine people selected for induction next June. Other boxers in the class of 2018 announced Tuesday were four-division world champion Erik Morales and light middleweight champion Ronald “Winky” Wright, while Sid Terris was elected posthumously in the old-timer category.

Elected in the observer category were broadcasters Steve Albert and Jim Gray, and German promoter Klaus-Peter Kohl was selected in the non-participant category. Ring announcer Johnny Addie and promoter Lorraine Chargin were elected posthumously in the non-participant category.

Voting was conducted by members of the Boxing Writers Association and a panel of international boxing historians.

With a Ph.D in his portfolio, the 6-foot-7 Klitschko earned the nickname “Dr. Ironfist.” A product of the Soviet athletic system, Klitschko and his younger brother, Wladimir, dominated the heavyweight class for a decade.

Vitali Klitschko boxed professionally from 1996-2013 but took three years off to pursue politics, finishing second in the race for mayor of Kiev in 2006. He used a fierce jab and aggressive punching to register an impressive 45-2 record with 41 knockouts, and his most memorable fight might have been his second loss. It came against WBC champion Lennox Lewis in Los Angeles in 2003. Klitschko was ahead on the scorecards when the fight was stopped after the sixth round because of a bad cut above Klitschko’s left eye.

Morales won titles in four weight divisions. Nicknamed “El Terrible,” the native of Mexico followed his father into the ring and won the NABF and WBC super bantamweight titles. He also defeated Guty Espadas Jr. for the WBC featherweight title in 2001, captured the WBC and IBF super featherweight titles in 2004, and in 2011 defeated Pablo Cano for the WBC light welterweight title. He retired a year later after back-to-back losses to Danny Garcia, finishing with a pro record of 52-9 (36 KOs).

Wright, a native of Washington, D.C., was a 5-foot-10 southpaw who captured the NABF light middleweight title twice (1995-96, 2000) and four world 154-pound title belts. He also competed as a middleweight and scored wins over Sam Soliman and Felix Trinidad before retiring in 2012 with a pro record of 51-6-1 (25 KOs).

“Oh, man, it’s an honor,” Wright said. “I appreciate it. It feels so great.”

For Don Chargin, his wife’s selection was a dream come true. Together, they co-promoted thousands of boxing shows over nearly five decades before her death in 2010.

“This news has made my day,” Chargin said. “I’m just so happy. I’ve been wishing and praying for this.”

Albert is the younger brother of broadcasters Marv and Al Albert, so talking had always been second nature – until Steve got the word.

“It’s rare for me, but I’m a little speechless right now,” said Steve Albert, who called more than 300 championship bouts for Showtime from 1987-2009. “Having been out of the sport for a few years I didn’t expect it to happen. It’s a little overwhelming.”

For Gray, a veteran of over 700 championship bouts as part of the broadcast team at Showtime, it, too, was an unforgettable moment.

“I got chills,” Gray said. “I’m so honored and so grateful to the sport, the fighters and the Hall of Fame. What an amazing feeling to have this unique recognition.”

Kohl, a native of Hamburg, Germany, was a timekeeper for the German Professional Boxing Association before venturing into promoting in the late 1980s under the Universum Box-Promotion banner. He promoted more than 2,100 bouts.

Terris, dubbed the “Ghost of the Ghetto,” was a lightweight from New York who excelled as an amateur, going unbeaten in 50 fights. In 1922, he won the New York state, New York City, national and international amateur lightweight championships and also was the national AAU bantamweight champion. Although he never fought for a title, Terris had a solid pro career, retiring in 1931 with a record of 92-13-5 (12 KOs). He died in 1974.

A native of Italy, Addie was a broker on Wall Street and announced boxing matches as a sideline before being hired by Madison Square Garden in 1948. He called virtually every major fight there until his death in 1971.

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