There are those that get their fame in the ring and this weekend up in Canastota New York the annual International Boxing Hall of Fame will induct their latest class for 2017. Former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield will get his well deserved honor as will the warriors associated with the sport such as former world champions Marco Antonio Barrera and Johnny Tapia.
However the sport has other warriors that include the writers at ringside and those who call and analyze the fights for fans in the comfort of their living room or local pub. Without these warriors at ringside the color and painting a picture would be classified as a boring 12-round championship fight.
Steve Farhood is the opposite of being in that boring category. Boxing could be classified as his middle name and this weekend, he along with Showtime Boxing colleague Barry Tompkins join that latest class enshrined and officially become a part of boxing history and fame.
Friday night, Farhood and Tompkins will call the fights on Showtime, down the road as a part of a big weekend of events. But for Farhood, Brooklyn born and raised, this will be different. He has been calling the fights for almost 40 years as an accomplished writer and broadcaster and some of the best have been analyzed.
When he gets to the podium Sunday afternoon he will take a glance and see some of those legends that have made boxing history.
“I’m very humbled to receive this honor,” Farhood said. “I’ve been to the Hall of Fame several times sitting in the seats, but not up there on stage. As a member of the media, you don’t think of yourself ever getting up there, but I’m very honored and surprised. This will be a different experience and one that, in my mind, validates my 39 years in one industry.”
And he says, “It reminds me how lucky I’ve been to cover the sport I love. I’ve done it 24/7, and I’ve never been bored.”
And, we as members of the media who cover this sport are not accustomed to receiving the honor and reward of calling and writing about the fights. At times there is that controversy and offering a proper perspective of what went wrong with a decision or infraction in the ring.
Boxing is the sport of the unexpected and Farhood has been a part of that.
There was that controversial first fight with the late Hall of Famer Alexis Arguello and Aaron Pryor in Miami almost 35 years ago. At ringside with Farhood who at the time was writing for “KO Magazine” we witnessed the trainer Panama Lewis, in the corner of Pryor, slipping something in the water bottle.
That turned the fight around for Pryor who would TKO Arguello in the 14th round in an era when fights were scheduled for 15 rounds. Pryor won the WBA super lightweight title and the capacity crowd at the Orange Bowl was perplexed.
We as boxing media at the time, including the late historian and writer Bert Sugar, and Farwood knew something was wrong at the Orange Bowl and it had something to do with the juice in that bottle, not what came out of the orange trees surrounding the arena. It was an era of the boxing reporter around the controversy and pulling no punches.
The fight revealed that Panama Lewis was not to be trusted. Farhood wrote it that way in a time when boxing was at the forefront with headlines and exposure. This was also the era of a reporter not holding back the punches and expressions at ringside told the story.
Farhood says, “It is still the best fight I have ever covered.” Tompkins, who in his own right is an accomplished broadcaster of major sporting events, was one of the broadcasters calling that fight at ringside.
So why does a member of this declining and different type of boxing media deserve enshrinement in a hall of champions? Farwood has never been one to say, he deserves the recognition. This is a job and the personalities in the sport make it that more interesting and compelling to be at ringside.
He reflects on that career in a few days. Much too many of stories that can be told but well deserved from a reporter who fell in love with the sport from his days as a kid growing up in Brooklyn, that is now home of the famous and oldest boxing gym of champions known as Gleason’s.
At that gym, and a few weeks after the tragic events of 9-11, Farhood organized and raised a charity event that raised $50,000 for the city of New York. “My proudest boxing moment,” he says, “for the city I love so much”
And for the NYU graduate this has been a journey that continues. Covering training camps at Deer Lake with the “Greatest” Muhammad Ali and still calling fights on Showtime, as he will do again Friday night on ShowBox where he has been at ringside for 16 years.
And that honor of enshrinement is well deserved in this new era of the sport.
“KO” Magazine under Farwood gave the known “Ring Magazine” a run for the money, and at a time when boxing media depended on print media at the newsstand. Now it is the internet and television era and when Farwood gets his moment Sunday afternoon there may be no time to tell it all.
But those stories of the past will be revived and Steve Farhood will get his deserved time to tell them. Congratulations to a colleague as the newest inductee to the International Boxing Hall of Fame.