Al Bernstein and the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame

By Robert Ecksel on August 8, 2015
Al Bernstein and the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame
I spoke with Al Bernstein about the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame and this year’s gala.

The International Boxing Hall of Fame is the top of the hit parade, but it’s located in Canastota, which is something of a backwater…

Tonight in Las Vegas, the Third Annual Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame Gala takes place at Caesars Palace. The event will be hosted by Rosie Perez and Al Bernstein. 

I asked Al Bernstein about the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame and this year’s gala.

“I was inducted the first year,” he said, “but I have not hosted. Barry Tompkins hosted the first year, and he hosted with Rosie Perez last year. So this is the first time I’m hosting. Rich Marotta (President and CEO of the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame) came to me and asked if I was available to host with Rosie and I said sure, I wanted to help him out.”

Rosie Perez is something of a phenomenon. Most celebrities don’t wear their love of boxing on their sleeve…but not Rosie.

“We’ve crossed paths on several occasions,” said Bernstein. “I sat with her at one of the events at the Hall of Fame in Canastota. I also bumped into her at a couple of fights. We’ve often texted and tweeted each other and exchanged our books and all the rest. So I know her and found her to be a delightful lady. She’s out there as a fan, but there are so many celebrities and entertainment people that love the sport. She has just been much more active in terms of social media and other things, and now of course she’s doing some things for ESPN. But Rosie’s a huge fan, that’s for sure.”

The idea of a Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame had been discussed for years. The International Boxing Hall of Fame is the top of the hit parade, but it’s located in Canastota, which is something of a backwater. But the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame is in Las Vegas, about which little more needs to be said.

“Obviously the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota draws an amazing group of people,” Bernstein said, “and it’s regarded as the Boxing Hall of Fame. But the thing that makes the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame kind of special is that so much of boxing’s history had something to do with the state and because of what Rich and all his people have done with this event and this organization. From the very first one, this event has taken on mythic proportions. You’re rarely going to be in a room where you see Marvin Hagler, Lennox Lewis, Sugar Ray Leonard, Mike Tyson, Floyd Mayweather—the list goes on and on. It’s an amazing group of people to have in one room and this event is really extraordinary.”

Bernstein isn’t just name-dropping. He’s knows these guys personally. In addition to the aforementioned legends, the inductees of the Class of 2015 in attendance will be Felix Trinidad, Marco Antonio Barrera, Roger Mayweather, and Eddie Mustafa Muhammad.

“I’m lucky enough to be able to present the award to Hagler. I have a long history announcing the Hagler fights in the ‘80s. I was also privileged to spend a lot of time with him. But it was a little different back then. You would see the fighters in a slightly different setting. We’d all be out on the town. We used to go to a club called Botany’s. It was off The Strip and there were no ‘clubs’ back then, so it was a gathering place. In one corner you’d see Sugar Ray Leonard, and in another corner you’d see Hagler, and in another corner you’d see Tommy Hearns. It was a more freewheeling, interactive time. You got to be around them more. The situation wasn’t so antiseptic.”

I asked Bernstein to describe Marvin Hagler.

“The words I use to describe Marvin Hagler are straight up. He’s just a really solid guy. You can count him to do what he said he was going to do, to be where he said he was going to be, and to talk to you honestly.”

And what are his impressions of Lennox Lewis?

“Lennox to me is a very special guy in boxing, because I think he is someone who elevated the heavyweight crown. He comported himself in a way that was extremely admirable and gave class to the heavyweight championship.”

Felix Trinidad will be present tonight.

“Felix Trinidad embodies—and in fact I think Rosie is presenting the award to him—he embodies the greatness of Puerto Rican champions. He was a brilliant fighter. I don’t know him as well personally, but the way he represents the sport, he’s an amazing character.”

I asked Bernstein about Marco Antonio Barrera.

“Marco Antonio Barrera helped the smaller weight fighters gain a foothold in the consciousness of American sports fans. That is one thing, and there are many more, about his legacy that is very special. His fights with Erik Morales were one of the best trilogies in the sport of boxing. It rivals Ali-Frazier in my opinion in terms of its level of boxing, certainly, even if it wasn’t as big on a global scale. But I always said that Barrera, Morales, Pacquiao and Marquez created fights that rivaled what the Four Kings did.”

Eddie Mustafa Muhammad will be inducted in tonight’s award ceremony.

“I love Eddie. Eddie Mustafa Muhammad was a terrific light heavyweight at a time when the light heavyweight division was as good as it has ever been in boxing. There were tremendous fighters during that period. He was also of course a world-class trainer.”

Speaking of world-class trainers, Roger Mayweather will also be at the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame.

“We all acknowledge that Floyd Mayweather is one of the best pound-for-pound fighters of the decade and one of the best pound-for-pound fighters of his era, and some of the credit has to go to Roger Mayweather. For so long he was involved in Mayweather’s training. And he’s a Las Vegas fixture too. There’s a sense of community here.”

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  1. Sean Ness 12:45am, 08/09/2015

    Bernstein is a boxing institution. He’s also covered British Boxing on TV over here. It’s great to see high profile names wear their heart on their sleeve in terms of boxing and Rosie certainly showed that on PBC Garcia Malignaggi broadcast. The inductees of 2015 have been great servants to the sport and congratulations to them. Congratulations.

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