Connecticut Boxing Hall of Fame Class of 2021 Announced. Mike Oliver, Danny Schiavone, Frank E. Russo, Jose “Papo” Colon, Elvin Ayala & Mike Criscio.

UNCASVILLE, Conn. (April 4, 2022) – The Connecticut Boxing Hall of Fame (CBHOF) has announced its six-member Class of 2021 to be inducted during the 16TH annual CBHOF Gala Induction Dinner on Saturday night, May 21, in the Uncas Ballroom at Mohegan Sun.

The CBHOF Class of 2020 consisting entirely of “Old Timers”, will also be inducted on May 21st.

Class of 2021 inductees are retired boxers Mike “Machine Gun” Oliver, of Hartford, and New Haven’s Elvin Ayala, Hartford referee Danny Schiavone, Glastonbury’s (Hartford Civic Center executive director) Frank E. Russo, Manchester trainer Jose “Papo” Colon, and New Haven manager Mike Criscio.

“The Connecticut Boxing Hall of Game is very excited to reconvene our Gala Induction Dinner after a two-year pandemic related hiatus,” CBHOF president John Laudati said. “The pandemic ‘pause’ gave the Selection Committee ample time to research boxing archives in order to support the induction of the 2020 Class of deceased boxing legends. Recognition of these deserving individuals is long overdue.”

“Our Class of 2021 is also exceptionally outstanding, as well. It is a class which truly represents the sport of boxing. Fighters, trainers, managers, promoters, and ring officials are being inducted in this class. I encourage all boxing fans to come out to Mohegan Sun on May 21st for a fantastic celebration of the accomplishments of these two worthy Hall of Fame classes.

Oliver (26-12-1, 8 KOs) first laced-up boxing gloves at the tender age of three. After excelling as an amateur boxer, Oliver captured the vacant IBO Super Bantamweight World title in 2007, taking a 12-round unanimous title from Cruz Carbajal in Boston. The gifted southpaw was also the USBA and New England title holder during his 20-year pro career.

Schiavone has developed into one of the most respected referees in boxing, having worked more than 440 fights during almost two-decade career, including seven world title bouts and more than 40 regional title fights. He has refereed bouts featuring elite fighters such as Roy Jones, Jr., Adrian Broner, David Tua, Hasim Rahman, and Vasiliy Lomanchencko. The Hofstra University graduate also refereed the 2019 Chris Arreola-Chris Kownacki fight, which set a record for most thrown punches during a heavyweight fight. Schiavone has also acted in two boxing movies, “Back in the Day” and the soon to be released “Pep” a movie about Hartford’s greatest fighter Willie Pep. Schiavone also appeared in the television series, “Gravesend.”

Back in 1974, Russo listened to the suggestion of the Hartford Civic Center concessions manager, Johnny Cesario, later a CBHOF member, to host boxing events. Russo later made future world welterweight champion and CBHOF inductee Marlon Starling the Harford Civic Center’s house fighter. More than 13,000 boxing fans attended the closed circuit showing of the first Sugar Ray Leonard-Roberto Duran fight, which was shown after a live card headlined by Starling. Russo also helped promote the pro careers of 1984 USA Olympians Pernell Whitaker, Mark Breland, Meldrick Taylor, Evander Holyfield, and Tyrell Biggs.

The 76-year-old Colon is still an active trainer, now working out of the Manchester Ring of Champions Society. A native of Puerto Rico Colon moved to the U.S. and in 1979, he worked some of New York’s most prestigious gyms, including Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn. Eighteen years later, Colon moved to Hartford, where he worked at the San Juan Center with future CBHOF inductee George Cruz. He later worked out of the Hartford Boxing Center, assisting trainer Tony Blanco in building Richie “Popeye” Rivera’s career.

Ayala burst upon the pro boxing scene in 2003, winning his first sixteen fights with a defensive style that left opponents flustered and frustrated. A 2007 draw in Carson, California with unbeaten Sergio Mora (19-0), winner of the Contender series (original) and future world middleweight champion positioned Ayala to challenge 25-0 IBF Middleweight World Champion Arthur Abraham. Abraham stopped the game Ayala in the 12th round.

Criscio progressed from a pawnbroker to a boxing manager where in 2017 he guided Chad Dawson to the WBC Light Heavyweight World Championship by way of a lopsided 12-round unanimous decision over defending champion Tomasz Adamek in Kissimmee, Florida. Criscio managed as many as 35 pro boxers, including Dawson, Alfredo Angulo, Jean Pascal, Peter Manfredo Jr., Toka Kahn Clery, Chris Avalos and the late Luis Rosa Jr.

CBHOF’s 2021 award winners will soon be announced.

The Class of 2020 inductees are boxers Jimmy Leto, Eddie Dolan, Al Gainer, and Steve Carr, as well as coach Mosey King and commissioner Barbara Dunn.

Leto, a welterweight from Hartford, had a superlative 125-29-12 record from 1924 to 1943. Managed by legendary Lou Viscusi, Leto defeated future International Boxing Hall of Famers such as Chalky Wright, Cocoa Kid and Fritzie Zivic. Leto died in 1986 at the age of 75.

Dolan not only fought in the same era as Leto, but he also defeated him in 1940. Dolan tuned pro in 1931at the age of 18 and finished his career with an 89-9-3 pro record, including victories against Cocoa Kid and Zivic. The Waterbury welterweight, who was undefeated throughout 1939, died in 1964 at 51.

After a brief pro career as a lightweight, King became the head boxing coach at Yale University in 1907. The New London native held that post until 1952, when Yale dropped boxing as a sport. King was so highly regarded that he became Connecticut’s first boxing commissioner in 1921, serving in that capacity for two years. King passed away in 1956.

Gainer was a formidable light heavyweight from New Haven who compiled a 77-23-6 (41 KOs) record from 1930-1941. Gainer defeated James J. Braddock and Tony Galento. He fought Maxie Rosenbloom to a draw and had two different win streaks of 12 and 13 fights. He died in 1973.

Fighting during the Great Depression, Carr’s career lasted only seven years, but the Meridian native retired with a 52-14-8 pro record, his most notable win versus Nathan Mann. Carr died in 1954 at the age of 41.

Newton native Dunn was a pioneer. She was named the Connecticut Commissioner of Consumer Protection in 1971, also taking on the role as the nation’s first female boxing commissioner. Her fearless regulation of the sport of boxing earned her respect throughout the boxing industry. A University of Connecticut graduate, Dunn passed away in 2017 at 90.

Tickets for the CBHOF 16th annual Gala Induction Dinner, reasonably priced at $90.00, are on sale and available to purchase by calling Sherman Cain at 860.212.9029 and Rider Productions at 860.413.9067. Doors open at 6:00 p.m. ET, followed by a full sit-down dinner at 7 p.m. ET.

Go online to www.ctboxinghof.org for additional information about the Connecticut Boxing Hall of Fame, its 16th annual Gala Inductee Dinner, event sponsorship opportunities, and past CBHOF inductees.

ABOUT CBHOF: The Connecticut Boxing Hall of Fame was founded in 2004 to honor and celebrate the careers of outstanding individuals involved in the sport of boxing. Its inaugural Induction Ceremony & Dinner was held in 2005. Connecticut’s rich boxing history could never have flourished if it weren’t for the achievements of those enshrined in the Hall of Fame. The CBHOF’s new location is in the Sky Casino at Mohegan Sun.

As a non-profit organization, the Connecticut Boxing Hall of Fame is deeply committed to keeping the fighting spirit of Connecticut thriving through various charitable contributions.

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