By Gary “Digital” Williams
A quartet of legendary world champions from the Beltway region will headline the latest class of inductees into the Washington, DC Boxing Hall of Fame on Friday, November 9th at Martin’s Crosswinds in Greenbelt, MD.
International Boxing Hall of Famer Mark “Too Sharp” Johnson will be inducted into the DC hall. After losing his second pro fight in March of 1990, Johnson (44-5, 28 KO’s) reeled off 27 consecutive victories leading to his first world title opportunity. Johnson would capture the vacant IBF Flyweight title with a stunning first-round knockout over former world champion Francisco Tejedor on May 4th, 1996 at the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, CA.
Johnson would defend the IBF Flyweight title seven times, including an impressive first-round stoppage of Arthur Johnson at the DC Armory on February 22nd, 1998. Johnson would move up to super flyweight and win the IBF version of that title with a 12-round unanimous decision over Chaiya Pothang (AKA Ratanachai Sor Vorapin) on April 24th, 1999 at the now Capitol One Arena in DC. On August 16, 2003, Johnson would capture the WBO version of the 115-pound title with a 12-round majority decision over Fernando Montiel at Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, CT. The Ring would name Johnson the top flyweight of the 1990’s and the International Boxing Hall of Fame would induct him in 2012. Johnson is the youngest selection into the IBHOF.
Also going into the DC Hall Of Fame is another three-time world champion, Simon “Mantequilla” Brown. A native of Clarendon, Jamaica, Brown (47-12, 34 KO’s) would move to DC as a young man. Brown would make his pro debut in February of 1982 and fight many of his bouts in Atlantic City, NJ. Brown would win 21 straight bouts before losing his first contest, a 12-round split decision to Marlon Starling in November of 1985 in Atlantic City.
Brown would win his next three contests before earning his first world title shot. Brown would travel to Berck-sur-Mer, France to face Tyrone Trice for the IBF Welterweight championship on April 23rd, 1988. Brown would score a 14th round TKO to win his first world title. Brown would have eight successful title defenses, including a rematch with Trice on April 1st, 1990 at the DC Armory where Brown would score a 10th round TKO. Brown would be on a collision course with his best friend, Maurice Blocker, who was the WBC Welterweight champion. On March 18th, 1991, the two would meet at the Mirage in Las Vegas, NV and Brown would knock out Blocker in the 10th round to win both belts.
Brown would move up to the super welterweight division and would score the Ring Magazine’s Upset Of The Year, knocking out Terry Norris in the fourth round on December 18th, 1993 in Puebla, Mexico to capture the WBC 154-Pound title. In the latter stages of his career, Brown would face some of the best in the business, including Vincent Pettway, Bernard Hopkins, Aaron Davis and Lonnie Bradley.
Yet another three-time world champ will enter the DC Hall in William Joppy. Joppy (40-7-2, 30 KO’s) was a stalwart in the middleweight division. Joppy began his career in February of 1993 and would have a 22-0-1 record in his first 23 bouts. On June 24th, 1996, Joppy would travel to Yokohama, Japan and score a 9th-round TKO over previously undefeated Shinji Takehara to win the WBA Middleweight championship. After two successful title defenses, Joppy would lose the WBA title in a controversial unanimous decision loss to Julio Cesar Green on August 23rd, 1997 in Madison Square Garden in New York City. Joppy would regain the WBA title from Green on January 31st, 1998 in Tampa, FL by unanimous decision.
Joppy’s next title defense would be against the legendary Roberto Duran on August 28th, 1998 in Las Vegas, NV Joppy would easily defeat the aging Duran by third-round TKO. In January of 1999, Joppy would suffer injuries in an automobile accident but would return eight months later to defend his title in a third bout against Green on September 24th, 1999 at the now Capital One Arena in DC. Joppy would lose the title to Felix Trinidad on May 12th, 2001 during the Middleweight Championship Series at Madison Square Garden but would win the WBA title for the third time with a 12th-round majority decision victory over Howard Eastman on November 17th 2001 in Las Vegas. Joppy would challenge for the super middleweight and light heavyweight titles before his career ended.
The fourth former world champion was a pioneer in the women’s division in the Beltway, Lisa “Too Fierce” Foster-Cohen. In a six-year career, Foster-Cohen (6-5-1, two KO’s) was able to win one of the big belts in the women’s division, the IFBA (International Female Boxers Association) super bantamweight title, scoring a ninth-round TKO over Kathy Williams on May 15th, 2002 in Kenner, LA. Foster would also challenge for the WIBF (Women’s International Boxing Federation) title during her career.
Foster is the second female boxer to be inducted into the DC Boxing Hall of Fame joining Isra Girgrah Wynn who was inducted in 2009.
Inducted in the Amateur Boxing Division will be Patrice “Boogie” Harris and Anthony “Da Beast” Suggs. Harris has been a famed trainer at the Headbangers Gym in Washington, DC who has worked with amateur and pro champions, including Lamont and Anthony Peterson, David Grayton and his son, Patrick. Harris will also have a role in the upcoming movie Creed 2.
Suggs was an amateur boxing champion who was ranked number one in the country and number four in the world in 1987. Suggs later had a 12-year pro career and has gone on to become a motivational speaker and author.
Four more Beltway notables will be inducted into the Outstanding Contributors section. Brent Bovell has been a noted amateur and pro referee and judge for many years. Bovell is one of a handful of referees from the area who can work in international and Olympic competition. In 2012, Bovell started working professional contests and has been the third man in the ring in a number of regional title bouts.
Tamara McKinney has been a prominent member of the Potomac Valley Association of USA Boxing for a number of years. McKinney has served as the lead official for numerous local amateur events and has also served as an organizer of amateur cards that have helped benefit numerous causes.
David Norman served as chair of the Maryland State Athletic Commission in the late 2000’s and oversaw a number of world and regional title bouts. Norman still serves on the commission as a commissioner.
Mack Allison III is a former kickboxing champion who has trained numerous young boxers in Baltimore, MD. After working at the Upton Boxing Center for 16 years, Allison opened his own gym, Time 2 Grind, in June of this year. Among Allison’s notable boxers are Malik Titus, who has won five straight regional Golden Gloves championships and Allison’s son Mack IV, who was the Beltway Boxing Rookie of the Year in 2016.
The banquet will begin with a cash bar at 7 PM and the dinner service starts at 8 PM. Tickets are $65 per dinner. For reservations, call 240-472-9226.