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New Mexico Boxing Pioneers Still Shunned By Hall Of Fame  

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By Andrew Rivera: Recently, on a local sports radio talk show, I overheard the host petitioning for inductees for the New Mexico Boxing Hall of Fame. When doing some research, I discovered that four of New Mexico’s pioneers of boxing were not in the Hall. Promoter Lenny Fresquez, former USA Boxing President Sandy Pino , media member Dan Sisneros and Journalist/Photographer Chris Cozzone.

 

The four mentioned not in the Hall is a travesty and to be honest an insult to the true boxing community. It should have no barring if the individual is liked or disliked, it should be on boxing merit and what they have accomplished and given to the sport of boxing.

 

Let’s be honest, I do understand the politics in all sports and sometimes it’s who’s side your on at this time of the battle. I also understand when financial gain oversteps its boundaries when others are being pushed for a spot in the Hall and none are more deserving then the aforementioned.

 

Recently when talking to a member of the NMBHOF, who I respected enough to remain anonymous, they stated they would like it to be more on what one contributes to New Mexico Boxing, not a “good ol boys club”. “There are people in the hall that shouldn’t be in before Lenny, Sandy, Dan, Chris and even yourself.” Stated the source “I want or hope it will be people who have contributed to the boxing community in New Mexico and for a long period. It shouldn’t be on who bought more tickets for a banquet to get one in for next year’s inductions, hopefully that will change.”

 

There should be no doubt with Media contributors Dan Cisneroes and Chris Cozzone, they set the standard in covering boxing when no one else did. One Media recipient who’s in the Hall had covered boxing from 2011 until he was inducted in 2015. How can this happen? He is on the board and helps organize each year’s event so that helps . Does four years merit induction to a Hall of Fame when you haven’t lived in New Mexico long nor covered the boxing scene for any length of time? Dan Sisneros covered boxing for over 20 years with his 8 Count Boxing Hour on access TV. Chris Cozzone started the first all boxing Website in 2002, NewMexicoBoxing.com. Sandy Pino has been around boxing for over 30 years as a former president of USA boxing, she has been a time keeper and judge in New Mexico and throughout the country. Lenny Fresquez has promoted over 120 fight cards in his career as a promoter.

 

In 1984, Pino was asked to be the time keeper for the 1984 Olympics and Team USA. The team consisted of boxing greats Evander Holyfield, Tyrell Biggs, Meldrick Taylor and Pernell Whitaker.

 

Pino was the USA Boxing Team lead at the Sydney Olympics, three world championship tournaments, two different Pan American Games and was the first Hispanic Women to be named president of USA Boxing, which consisted of over 40,000 members at the time.

 

Dan Sisneros started the 8 Count Boxing Hour in the late 80’s, the show was committed to showcasing the boxing talent in New Mexico. Dan also covered boxing as the commentator for Promoter Lenny Fresquez Rising Stars Series, which was seen late night on Saturdays in the 90’s. Dan recently wrote a book Mat Tales, a book about true and bizarre tales from boxing mostly from New Mexico.

 

When letting Sisneros know of my story, he let me know he has reached out to another boxing show being shown on local Television to talk about the good old days of boxing in New Mexico, only to be ignored by one of the hosts with no replies to messages. Dan being the man he is just said. “I tried’.

Dan stepped away from boxing once he retired from the United States Postal Service and moved from Albuquerque to Las Cruces. Dan has started to dabble more in boxing starting a social media page where he starts forums of past fights and fighters. A class act and a good man.

 

Chris Cozzone started covering boxing in 2001 on the internet when the internet was taking off more and more for easy news access, he gave me my first start in covering boxing that same year, together along with Photographer Tom Hernandez we have covered fights, not only in New Mexico but around the country and in Mexico as well, totaling over 400 fight cards easily.

 

Cozzone covered all New Mexico boxing fight cards from 2001 until he walked away from boxing in 2014, I’m sure it is safe to say he like myself covered less and less in New Mexico as boxing became stagnant with the same stories and cards.

 

Covering boxing in New Mexico wasn’t all Cozzone did, he was also the main photographer for other boxing websites covering all major fights in Las Vegas for almost his whole boxing journalist career. His work has also been published in The Ring Magazine. Cozzone finished a book on the History of New Mexico Boxing, the book was started by the late Jim Boggio whose wife asked Cozzone to finish and get published. He did and the book received great reviews.

 

Lenny Fresquez should have been in years ago, with him being the only Promoter to outlast others for over two decades when he was actively putting on fights throughout the state. Promoting with his Rising Stars Series he is also the promoter who took a chance on a former soccer player turned boxer, she became a multi time champion and rose to MMA stardom as well. That soccer player was Holly Holm

 

Fresquez promoted his first card when he put on future flyweight champion of the world Danny Romero Jr. fight card with Facundo Rodriquez in August of 1994. Fresquez has promoted other world championship fight cards, along with Romero, Johnny Tapia and Cruz Carbajal to name a few. He is still the only promoter/manager for arguably one of the top three women’s fighters of all time in Holm.

 

Fresquez did mention he was called to give bio on his career recently with being nominated for the hall but mentioned it may have been met with some reluctance with other board members, not because of his boxing resume, that speaks for himself, maybe it’s because he is a shrewd successful businessman. I myself in the beginning of covering boxing had my disagreements with Fresquez but over the years I understood where he was coming from on the business side. I can honestly say I have learned the crazy business side of boxing from Fresquez.

 

Talking to Chriz Cozzone about the hall he did mention that Lenny without a doubt should be in, but if he doesn’t it’s because he may not be liked which should have no baring at all. “It’s a shame that he isn’t in for all he’s done for boxing.” Says Cozzone “He kept boxing alive for decades when all else failed.”

 

When doing my interviews with Cozzone and Fesquez, we reminisced about our times covering boxing and they both said it best “If we all get in or not, we all know our history is supplanted in New Mexico and the true boxing people know, our history speaks for itself.”

 

As for myself when people humbly say I should be in NMBHOF. I received a message from the true God Father of boxing writers in New Mexico, Rick Wright who I hope doesn’t mind me sharing. Rick who recently retired from the Albuquerque Journal after almost four decades of covering boxing and other sports said he was humbled by me trying to get him in the New Mexico Sports Hall of Fame. Rick said, “I’m honored that you consider me worthy. In my mind you’re as worthy of that honor as I, perhaps more so. Regards, Rick”

 

Coming from him, I have already made it in my mind.

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