Floyd Patterson won an Olympic gold medal and was the first boxer to ever win back the heavyweight championship. But the former champion says his selection into the International Boxing Hall of Fame is just as exciting.
"The biggest thrill of my entire career was winning in the Olympics. No other moment has surpassed that one," said Patterson, one of 26 boxers and boxing officials selected Tuesday for enshrinement in the 3-year-old museum in June."I was thrilled two years ago that they finally opened a real Hall of Fame for boxers," said Patterson, who was 21 when he knocked out Archie Moore in November 1956 to become the youngest heavyweight champion to that time. "I'm even more thrilled that they're giving me my own place there.
"And don't forget, I was the first man to ever regain the championship," said Patterson, who was knocked out by Ingemar Johansson in 1959 and regained the title the following year by knocking out Johansson in five rounds.
Patterson lost the title again in 1962 to Sonny Liston. He tried to win the title back for a third time but was stopped by Liston in 1963 and by Cassius Clay, later Muhammad Ali, in 1965.
Liston will join his former opponent in the Hall of Fame.
Others to be inducted in a ceremony June 9 include Tony Zale, Rocky Graziano and Marcel Cerdan, who dominated the middleweight division during the 1940s, said Edward Brophy, executive director of the Hall.
Joining those past champions will be middleweights Gene Fullmer (1957, 1959-1962) and Dick Tiger (1963, 1965-1966), who also reigned as the light heavyweight champion from 1966-1968; lightweights Beau Jack and Carlos Ortiz (1962-1965 and 1965-1968); and featherweights Ruben Olivares (1974-1975) and Salvador Sanchez (1980).
"There's no question these fighters belong here," said Brophy, who helped found the museum in 1988. "Between the seven living inductees alone, they fought in a total of 76 world title fights. That proves their legendary status."
"This is fantastic," said Fullmer, who claimed championships with victories over two other Hall of Famers, Sugar Ray Robinson and Carmen Basilio.
"It seems like some people never forget you," said Fullmer, who runs a ranch in West Jordan, Utah, while serving as president of the Rocky Mountains Golden Gloves organization.