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Prospero finally gets Ring 44 honor

You could say that Angelo Prospero was due to be honored by the hall of fame he has devoted so much time to over the years, even though overdue might be more accurate.

The 84-year-old Prospero, an accomplished boxing writer/author/historian and teacher/professor, finally gets his due from the Buffalo Veterans Boxers Association Ring 44 Hall of Fame tonight as part of this year’s induction class.

The dinner ceremony starts at 6 at Salvatore’s Italian Gardens, and the honor comes after Prospero, who at one time served as historian for the Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, was inducted into the New York State Boxing Hall of Fame last March.

“I wonder what took them so long,” Prospero quipped during a phone interview from his home in Summerville, S.C.

“I’ve been very active in the club so it didn’t really come as a surprise,” the Batavia native added.

Joining an honored Prospero into the Ring 44 Hall of Fame this year are instructors of the sweet science Juan, Carlos and Angel DeLeon – the trio who make up Team DeLeon, late trainer Tony Pinto and late middleweight Paulie Mahoney, one of the area’s top professionals during the 1930s and ’40s.

Niagara Falls’ K’Shawn Agee will be honored as Ring 44’s Amateur Boxer of the Year, while Rick Diaz and his son Ada Berto Herman Diaz-Padilla will be honored as the association’s Men of the Year. A limited number of tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling Ring 44 President Jack Green (316-5120).

Why the wait for Prospero, who has been a member of Ring 44 since coming aboard to help association president Jack Green reshape the organization in 1998?

Believe it or not, the man who covered the first Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier fight, along with Roberto Duran-Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler-Thomas Hearns, Hearns-Leonard I for Ring Magazine, was inadvertently taken for granted by those closest to him. His contributions alone as a writer probably should have been enough for Ring 44 inclusion.

“It is long overdue,” Green said of Prospero’s induction. “Sometimes you have a tendency to work so closely with a superstar and that superstar becomes a part of your regular activity. You realize the greatness you’re working with but you are just so kind of admirable and grateful that this person is treating you on a pure level that it sometimes gets away from you or comes at you late just how great” the person is. ... “I knew he deserved it, but you just didn’t relate to it because you were just so close to him.

“Angelo Prospero deserves every accolade he’s gotten. ... It’s like dropping cream into a cup of coffee. He’ll immediately rise to the top.”

Prospero, who also founded the Rochester Boxing Association in the 1970s and remains Ring 44’s Historian Emeritus, has done his best over the years to spread the word about Ring 44 through his writing for various national publications. Though he has a little trouble hearing these days, he’s still quite sharp and writes for Boxing World and Ring Sports.

Prospero earned national credibility (and hence writing jobs for numerous magazines) in the sport for his book “Great Fights and Fighters” during the late 1960s.

He currently is helping a former Buffalonian, Richard Blake, write a book recalling the life of former world champion Jimmy Slattery. The book “Slats” is scheduled for a 2015 release.

Prospero, a Canisius College graduate, war veteran and former Batavia Daily News sports writer, served as Ring 44’s historian until 2010. He used to serve as master of ceremonies for the Ring 44 Hall of Fame dinner before Green took over 15 years ago.

It’s ironic that for all the inductees he’s helped Ring 44 honor over the years that he won’t be able to attend his own induction ceremony tonight due to medical reasons.

“It’s a shame I can’t make it,” said Prospero, who underwent knee surgery two weeks ago and is under doctor’s orders not to travel.

Prospero’s good friend and Ring 44 member John Christiano will accept the honor on Prospero’s behalf.

Team DeLeon was part of Team Mesi during Joe Mesi’s unbeaten professional career. Juan DeLeon began training Mesi, the Ring 44 Hall of Famer, as an amateur in 1993. DeLeon, who lives in Kenmore, also was Mariusz Wach’s trainer when he fought for the world heavyweight title and lost via unanimous decision to Wladimir Klitschko in November 2012.

Pinto spent 30 years in the sport as a fighter and trainer at the amateur and pro levels. He passed away at age 57 from a heart attack.

Mahoney went 31-15-1 (14 KOs) during a nine-year career and later moved to Florida and then California, where he died in 1983.