Category Archives: Hall of Fame

2016 Chuck Hunter

chuck hunterChuck Hunter inducted into Hall of Fame posthumously. Chuck Hunter was born in Cleveland in 1925, and became one of the city’s finest middleweight contender boxers.

Hunter started boxing when he was 14 in 1942 he Won the national amateur bantam weight championship. In 1943, Hunter won the National AAU champion by TKO in the 3rd round against Buddy Holderfield in the Chicago Golden Gloves Toumament of Champions. Also during the tournament, he defeated Levi Southall in the 3rd round by KO. Hunter won the championship bout by beating Max Gonzalez. All of his fights were in the lightweight divisions.

Hunter turned professional in July of 1943 with a three round knockout win over Woody Sweeney. Hunter would win three more fights and he was later matched with veteran Maxie Berger.

Two fights into 1944 and exceptional Tommy Bell. Again over matched at this point in his career, Hunter was halted in the second. For the rest of 1944 Hunter would go 9-2. He went ten rounds with Bell in a December rematch but lost a unanimous decision.

Hunter started 1945 well with two knockout victories but his success was short lived as he would lose his next three bouts to Alex Doyle, Jimmy Doyle and Bell. Then Hunter would pull a few surprises of his own upsetting California Jackie Wilson and Rueben Shank. Hunter would win his first five fights in 1945 including a kayo over the ever dangerous Artie Levine. Then disaster struck in the form of the murderous punching Bob Satterfield. Bad Bob knocked Hunter out in the tenth round. It would take 20 minutes to revive Hunter. In his next bout Hunter lost a split decision to Jimmy Edgar. Hunter would then travel to Scranton, Pennsylvania to be stopped in two rounds by Jerry Petrovich who had a 3-1 record coming in.

In 1946 Hunter would lose a close verdict to Cecil Hudson. He would rally to defeat Bobby Berger and Sam Baroudi but lose again to Hudson to close out the year. For Hunter, 1947 was a good year for him with a 5-3 record.

Despite the bad luck Hunter would tum it around again in 1948 by defeating Dave Clark, Hudson and Steve Belloise. He ended the year losing a verdict to tough Nick Barone but he would start 1949 by defeating Levine.

Hunter’s career was turning into a roller coaster now. He would lose twice to the talented Tommy Yarosz but defeat Billy Brown and Dick Wagner. In 1950 Hunter would meet Jake LaMotta at the Cleveland Arena. With a big crowd on hand the rugged LaMotta wore down Hunter and stopped him in the sixth round. From this point on Hunter would go 4-10. He dropped a decisions‘ to future world champions, Harold Johnson and Carl”Bobo’ Olson. He retired from boxing in 1953. His final record was 45-26-1. He fought four world champions as well as several solid‘ contenders.

Hunter and his wife, Emma Meadows, had two children, Renee and Ricky. On July 3, 1973, Hunter died of an apparent heart attack at Lakeside Hospital at the age of 47 years old.

2016 Jon Melbar

jon melbarJon Melbar inducted into Hall of Fame.
Jon Melbar went from training in the basement of his parents home with his brothers to becoming one of Cleveland’s most outstanding boxers.

Melbar was born on March 29, 1975 in Cleveland to Jim and Charlotte Melbar. He was the youngest of five brothers and three sisters. Melbar graduated from South High School where he was an outstanding athlete. Nicknamed, ‘Jon Stone Hands Melbar,’ he was a star on
the football team.

Melbar’s favorite sport, thanks to his brothers, was boxing. When Melbar was six years old, his brother, Mike, taught him how to hit a speed bag. Melbar was so small that Mike had him stand on a stool to reach the bag. All of the Melbar boys boxed under their dad’s tutelage, but because Jon was the youngest and being small for his age, his mom Wouldn’t let him box she was too afraid that he’d get hurt. Despite her worries, Melbar was still allowed to train with his brothers. Over the course of the years, Mike taught him the fundamentals of the sport and together they trained in the basement gym that their dad had set up for them.

Melbar, being the youngest, had some anger management issue, and got in to trouble when he Was 15 years old. He was ordered to do community service and seek help for his anger management issues. Melbar realized that he needed to channel his emotions in a more positive way. He started hitting the gym hard. He began to train on a regular basis. When his brother, Mike, returned from military service, and the brothers began to train together. Mike was a great trainer, and Melbar, at the age of 17, won the championship in his weight division during a multiple week tournament. Melbar won boxing tournaments in New York , Pennsylvania ,West Virginia ,and Ohio.

Melbar was determined to box in the original Tough Man Competition, but he couldn’t make weight so he weighed in carrying his gym bag and his brother, Mike, stepped on the back of the scale to tip it in his favor. Mike and Jon Melbar had extraordinary careers and contributed to boxing in Cleveland. Melbar owned his own business for 20 years. He is devoted to his wife, Carol, and his five sons and daughter.

Melbar finished his career with close to 200 boxing matches, winning all but four bouts. He came a long way from standing on a box to hit the bag in his basement’. Melbar is inducted into the Hall of Fame
with Otha Martin.

2016 Otha Martin

otha martinOtha Martin inducted into Hall of Fame. While starting boxing at 15 years old, Otha Martin had an impressive amateur boxing career. His amateur boxing career started with his childhood friend Bobby Haymon at KY Benson Boystown at E. 79th Street and Woodland Avenue. He was coached and trained by the late Jessie Levels and Cecil Shorts During that time, Shorts was an up and coming young professional boxer who went on to an outstanding welterweight boxing career.

Martin’s amateur boxing career spanned a six year period during the 60’s as he was an aggressive brawler.

As a featherweight, Martin relocated his training from KY Benson Boystown to Johnny Papke’s Big Ten Gym at E. 14th Street and Carnegie Avenue. While training at the Big Ten Gym, Martin’s natural abilities were harnessed and improved by dedicated and legendary trainer, Clint Martin.

Under Clint’s guidance, Martin mastered the sweet art of boxing and learned to be humble in victory and defeat. During his boxing  career, he fought in four different weight classes: flyweight, bantamweight, featherweight, and lightweight. His record was 58 wins and 9 losses.

As a Golden Gloves participant, Martin won the novice flyweight championship and was a runner up in the open bantam and featherweight divisions during several competition years.

Martin was born in Cleveland and he attended the public school system where he graduated from Glenville High School in 1973. He earned an associate degree from Cuyahoga Community College on June 21, 1997.

He retired from employment in 2008 after 43 years with Daimler Chrysler in Twinsburg, Ohio. Martin has been married to his lovely wife, Joan, for 52 years. They have two children , Jacqueline and Otha III. They are the proud grandparents of three granddaughters.
Martin will be inducted into the Hall of Fame along with Jon

2016 Jackie Davis

jackie davisJackie Davis inducted into Hall of Fame posthumously. Jackie Davis, the main attraction at the annual Cleveland Christmas Show, was an outstanding boxer.

Davis was born in Cleveland in 1910 to Max and Libby. He had seven I brothers and sisters.

He married his wife, Frieda, and the couple had three children: Doreen, Edward, and Robert.

Davis was raised at the old Jewish Orphans Home, now known as Belfaire JCB. It was there that Davis was introduced to boxing in 1926.

Davis fought for the Chicago Lightweight Golden Gloves Title in 1929. Davis lost and was runner-up to the future world champion Barney Ross. Ross later wrote about the fight in No Man Stands Alone. According to Ross, Davis beat him “pretty good, and I was surprised when they raised my hand.” Ross and Davis fought five more times with split decisions every time.

Davis fought at the prestigious Annual Cleveland Christmas Show and he was victorious in the main event. Following his victory, Davis retired from the ring in 1937. When he retired, Ring Magazine ranked Davis in the top ten contenders.

Davis became a nationally recognized referee. He worked some of the biggest fights of the decade including: Jake la Motta, Sugar Ray Robinson, Artie, Levine, Joey Maxim, and Jimmy Bivins.

Davis refereed the Cleveland Golden Gloves, and was recognized as one of the best referees.

The New York Times listed Davis as one of the best referees in Davis wrote a column in the now defunct, Cleveland Press entitled, “Jackie Davis says.”

Davis and sportscaster, Jim Graner, broadcast a weekly boxing show on WEWS TV 5. The show featured many of Cleveland’s up  and coming championship boxers.

While refereeing a charity event for children in 1968, Davis collapsed and died in the ring.

Davis was remembered for his great generosity of spirit both the country for several years in and out of the ring. Davis fought more than 175 fights, winning 90% of the bouts.

2015 Ron Tillman

2015RonTillmanRon Tillman to be honored with Officials Award. For the majority of his life, Elyria native Ron Tillman has never avoided “A Good Fight.” “I used to get into fights in school so I got into boxing,” Tillman said. He channeled his energy into boxing starting at ten years old on the South Side of Elyria, and he went on to amass an incredible record of 235 wins and 15 losses as an amateur boxer. He added several professional encounters to his ring career before taking off the gloves.

With the gloves off, Tillman continued serving the sport he loved as a referee on the amateur and professional levels before retiring in 1999. Tillman was born in Elyria in 1948, and he graduated from Midview High School. Following graduation, he worked at the B.F. Goodrich Plant in Avon Lake. Boxing has dominated Tillman’s life, and he describes how he got started in the sport.

“Early on in my career, as a 10-year old, there wasn’t much competition in my age group, but it gave me something to do. Several of us got together, and we didn’t have a club gym to train in, so we’d workout in a neighborhood garage. I made my ring debut as an 11 year old, 118 pounder,” Tillman said. Tillman said that his training paid off when he came under the tutelage of legendary trainer Joe Gentile. Under Gentile’s watchful eye Tillman’s reputation took off in 1974, with the 147-156 pound class fighter, winning consecutive Northern Ohio Amateur Athletic Union and Northern Ohio Golden Gloves titles, advancing him to consecutive AAU and Golden Gloves appearances. To earn his first trip to the AAU Nationals in Denver, Tillman defeated Chuck Morgan for the Northern Ohio 156-pound title. He was a member of the Ohio delegation which won the National AAU Team Award, losing in the semifinals to national champion, Ray Phillips of Ft. Worth, Texas.

Tillman’s second trip to the Golden Gloves Nationals in Knoxville, Tennessee came with a semi-final victory over Youngstown’s Jimmy Villers, followed by a Northern Ohio Golden Gloves title win over Rick Noggle. He won the National AAU title with a win against defending Northern Ohio AAU champion, Chuck Morgan.

Tillman had an incredible boxing career, and he continued in the sport that he loved as an official. During his refereeing career, Tillman was in the ring as the third man for the IBF middle weight champion Lindell Homes in 1975, and later bouts involving Michael Dokes, Greg Page, and Mitch Green, as well as Roberto Duran during a 1992 fight in Cleveland when the 41 year-old Duran improved his record to 89-9 (60 KOs) with a second round TKO over Ken Hulser.

His amateur refereeing career included appearances in the Golden Gloves in Chicago, Milwaukee, Little Rock, Denver, Knoxville and St. Louis. Tillman is receiving the Official of the Year Award along with Earl Jewell.


2015 William Futchi (Lifetime Achievement Award)

Futchi to receive Lifetime Achievement Award.

William Futchi moved to Cleveland as a child and he attended North High School in Eastlake where he had an outstanding athletic career. Futchi’s compassion for competitive sports continued once he joined the Army, where he won many wrestling championships. Futchi was a 4th Army wrestling champion at Fort Hood, Texas.

Boxing became more of an interest to Futchi after he won two fights at the old Navy Park Gym. These fights helped him reach the 1961 Golden Gloves finals where he went up against Ted Humphrey for the Novice heavyweight title at the old Cleveland Arena. Futchi had only three prior bouts, but he proved himself to be a great fighter when he beat Humphrey. After the fight, the Plain Dealer called him “Slugging Futchi” and he received the Samuel D. Otis Trophy. After working in the construction industry, Futchi retired with 35 years of service.

Aside from boxing, Futchi coached softball and wrestling, and his girls softball team won three championships. Futchi won seven Ohio championships and one U.S. championship in flag football. Futchi also refereed a Tough Man competition with the late referee Jackie Keough. In addition to being inducted into the Ohio State Former Boxers and Associates, Inc. Hall of Fame, Futchi is in the North High Sports Hall of Fame for wrestling and in the Touch Football Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the North High School Legends Hall of Fame. Currently, Futchi resides in Mentor with his wife Karen, of 48 years. They have one son and two daughters, and 5 grandchildren. His granddaughter, Gabriella, was on the 9th grade varsity state championship volleyball team.

Futchi is being honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award along with Tom Lorek, Paul LaBuda, and Joe Gentile.

2015 Terry Strowder

As a boxer, Terry Strowder was a crowd pleaser.

June 14th, 1956 was a great day when Terry Strowder was born to the proud parents of Charlyn and Moses Strowder in Gary, Indiana. He was born into a family of two brothers and four sisters, and at an early age, Strowder and his family moved to Cleveland where five more siblings were added to the family. Finding his way in life as a young man, Strowder stumbled upon boxing at the age of 18. He started training under the tutelage of the late Chuck Watkins. A short time later, Strowder found his lifetime mentor and friend in boxing, the late legendary, Clint Martin, who was known as the “Godfather.” According to Strowder, he was a crowd pleaser, who was very flamboyant, and always had an entourage at his fights. “You either loved me or hated me,” Strowder said, “who always brought the crowds to their feet.”

After boxing for 14 years, Strowder compiled a record of 56 wins and 15 losses. According to Strowder, he disputes the 15 losses. His record included 10 championships and Golden Gloves runner-up three times. When Strowder ended his boxing career, he stayed away from boxing for 12 years while helping to raise his children: Terry, Dayrome, Chanel, and Sean. During the Glenville Festival in August of 2013, Strowder was recognized by Cleveland City Council for his inspirational contributions as a coach, and hype-man by Councilman Jeff Johnson.

According to Strowder, he learned a number of skills from boxing that he conveys to kids and young men. One skill is “that it doesn’t matter what walk of life you come from, what hardships in life you endure, we are all capable of second chances, to persevere, come back stronger.”

Strowder believes being inducted into the Hall of Fame does not come to those with the most wins or championships, but to those who bring something to the sport of boxing through coaching, their enthusiasm and engaging the fans to help even one boy fulfill a dream. “I am honored to receive this recognition and be among those that have preceded me. In closing I would just like to say `I’m the greatest’ your champ Krispy T,” Strowder said. Strowder is being inducted into the Ohio State Former Boxers and Associates, Inc. Hall of Fame along with Mike Milbar and Alex Cooper.


2015 Alex Cooper

Alex Cooper is passionate about training boxers.

While other children were playing tag, Alex Cooper was watching every Mike Tyson fight as a young kid as he grew up to be a big boxing fan. Cooper was born on June 1, 1983, and he graduated from Mentor High School in 2001.

He later graduated from Miami University of Ohio with a degree in finance in 2005, and he earned his M.B.A. from Case Western Reserve University. Cooper and his wife, Renee, have one daughter, Nora, who is 21 months old. While in college, Cooper played lacrosse, and following graduation he wanted to continue to pursue athletics as he joined King’s Gym in 2007 when he started training boxers under the tutelage of Robert Francis. By 2009, Cooper, alongside Francis, was training several fighters. During the past five years, Cooper trained Golden Gloves and Junior Olympic champions including Jeremy Abram and Aurel Love (Open Division boxers). Cooper traveled to Las Vegas in 2014 to coach Love in the Golden Gloves National Tournament where Love advanced to the quarter finals.

Currently, Cooper is the head amateur and assistant professional boxing coach at the Old School Boxing Club/ Strongstyle Fight Team in Independence under head coach Joe Delguyd. Copper’s duties include assisting Delguyd with his professional fighters as well as being the boxing coach for UFC fighters Jessica Eye and Stipe Miocic. Cooper is president of the Lake Erie Association, and he was secretary for the organization from 2013-2014.

According to Cooper, his favorite fighters are: Arturo Gatti, Keith Thurman, Mike Tyson and Marvin Hagler, and the greatest and his favorite fight of all time was Gatti vs. Ward 1. Cooper is vice president and relationship manager in the Middle Market Commercial Banking Group at Fifth Third Bank.

Cooper is a licensed USA Boxing judge, licensed professional cutman, trainer and manager. During the past four years, Cooper has acted as a matchmaker for about five amateur boxing shows a year. According to Cooper, “My goals are to bring more notoriety to the sport of boxing in the Cleveland areas and to make Cleveland area boxers more prevalent on the national scene.” Cooper is being inducted into the Ohio State Former Boxers And Associates, Inc., Hall of Fame along with Michael Melbar and Terry Strowder.

2015 Michael Melbar

Michael Melbar comes from a boxing family.

Michael Melbar is a native Clevelander who was born at the old St. Alexis Hospital in 1966. As a young child, Melbar’s mother died. After her death, he and his brothers were raised by their grandparents, James and Genevieve Gray, until Melbar was eight years old. According to Melbar, his father took the responsibility to care for him and his brothers, Tony, Joey, Jim, and Johnny. “At nine years old,” Melbar said, “my first pair of boxing gloves were put on me by my father.”

Melbar and his brothers were trained by the late Jim Kelly at PAL 10 gym. According to Melbar, he had his first fight was at the old Navy Park. Melbar graduated from Central Catholic High School in 1984, and joined the United States Army. He served in the Army from 1984-1987. Melbar continued his boxing career in the Army and he is proud that he was a member of the `All Army Team’ of 1986 and 1987. Prior to an early retirement, Melbar was a machinist at Central Brass before the plant relocated overseas. According to Melbar, his biggest fan is his daughter, Destiny, who always been in his corner.

Melbar and his brother, John, were matched eight times against each other in the finals of the Tough Guy Competitions, and the brothers took turns so that the other could win. As a professional figher, Melbar got a late start in his career. He became a professional fighter at 38 years old. Melbar was trained by Gary Horath, and his first professional fight was against Robert Smart at St. Michael’s Hall in Cleveland in May of 2004, and he won the fight by a KO in the first found. In his second fight, he won it by a TKO in the first round 14 against Kelly Praterin in June of 2004 at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Cleveland. Melbar fought five professional fights, and retired with a record of 2-3.

Melbar enjoys watching all kinds of sporting events, but most especially boxing matches. Melbar is being inducted into the Ohio State Former Boxers And Associates, Inc., Hall of Fame along with Alex Cooper and Terry Strowder.

2015 Earl Jewell (Official of the Year)

Jewell honored as Official of the Year.

Earl Jewell started boxing as a way to enhance his athletic skills and to keep himself out of trouble as a teenager and use his time productively into develop into manhood. Jewell, 49 years old, started his amateur boxing career under the trainership of Ozell Dobbins at the PAL Gym at E. 79th St. and Woodland Avenue. With a total of 103 amateur fights, Jewell won the Cleveland Golden Gloves in 1973 in the 132 pounds division; 1974 in the 139 pounds division; and 1975 in the 139 pounds division.

In 1976 he won the National PAL Championship in the 147 pounds division. While as an amateur boxer, he fought and beat such world boxing champions as Aaron Pryor, Helmer Kenty, Harry Arroyo and J.B. Williamson. Although Jewell fought Sugar Ray Leonard as an amateur, he was not able to get a win over him. As a professional boxer, Jewell had a short lived career with two fights and two wins. After ending his boxing career, Jewell trained boxers for a brief period at the PAL #3 Gym.

Being active for more than 18 years as an amateur and professional boxing referee, Jewell is licensed by the Ohio Athletic Commission as a referee. He has refereed world title fights in Europe and South America for the World Boxing Organization. Receiving his formal education in the Cleveland Public School System, Jewell graduated from East Tech High School. He retired after being employed for 32 years by the City of Cleveland. Following his retirement, Jewell is financial services expert for Primerica. While meeting in high school, Jewell has been married to his “Sweetheart” Theresa Ann for 35 years, and they have two sons, Earl Jr. and Aaron, and three grandchildren.

He enjoys watching football, basketball, and boxing. Jewell was inducted into the Ohio State Former Boxers and Associates, Inc. Hall of Fame in 2003. “It was an honor to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. If you are dedicated and work hard, you will be rewarded,” Jewell said. He is being honored as Official of the Year.