What do Hall of Fame inductees Sylvester Stallone and Kostya Tszyu have in common besides being inducted in the same class? Both have hosted reality TV shows about boxing. Stallone’s work on “The Contender” is well-known to American audiences, but Tszyu also hosted a show, “Ty – Chempion” (“You Are the Champion”) in Ukraine. The world is a small one.
There has been a bit of controversy among boxing fans about Stallone’s inclusion in this year’s class at Canastota. The “Italian Stallion” never had a pro or amateur fight; he never trained a fighter, applied an Enswell or a swab soaked in adrenaline, or otherwise participated in the sport between the ropes in a formal capacity. He has no major boxing bylines to his credit and his association has been purely by way of Hollywood.
But what a Hollywood association it has been. The Rocky movies are iconic, their quotes and themes providing a cultural touchstone that keeps the Sweet Science in the spotlight and inspires people to follow or even take up the sport. If indeed the Hall of Fame’s mission is to honor those who have contributed to the growth and glory of boxing, the inclusion of Sylvester Stallone among the honored keeps to that stated goal.