Carolinas Boxing Hall of Fame Announces Inductees
The inductees were announced today during a press conference at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The formal induction and dinner honoring these men will be April 8 in The Speedway Club at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Located on the second floor of Smith Tower at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the Carolinas Boxing Hall of Fame recognizes individual achievements and contributions to the rich boxing history of the Carolinas and features a 33-foot display case of boxing memorabilia. With the addition of these seven men, the Carolinas Boxing Hall of Fame will have honored 131 individuals since its inception in 1984.
Tickets for the induction dinner, priced at $30, are available from any member of the Carolinas Boxing Hall of Fame's board of directors: George Diehl (704) 537-1821; Archie Hargett (704) 394-5108; Bill McInnis (704) 283-0295; Carl Holt (704) 824-8287; Jim Heffner (704) 864-2363; Brent Elmore (803) 469-4677; Ron Harrison (704) 824-8162; Charlie Hammond (803) 366-5603 or Harry Hitopoulos (843) 884-3226.
The 2005 inductees:
GLENN McCRARY - Starting his boxing career in 1938 while still in high school, McCrary compiled a record of 101 wins and just four losses. He was never beaten in a Golden Gloves regional tournament, but he did lose twice at the National Finals in New York City. As a member of the U.S. Navy boxing team, McCrary did not lose a bout in four years. His other two loses came in a high school bout and a YMCA fight, but he later redeemed himself by beating both those fighters, one of them four times.
Described by his coach, Tresco Johnson, as a "brilliant fighter,¿ McCrary was knocked down just one time in his extensive career. That knockdown came at the hands of Frankie Donato in 1940 at the Golden Gloves National Finals. Donato, a Philadelphia fighter, earned the decision by one point, and went on to become the champion of his weight class. Prominent sportswriter Jake Wade considered McCrary among the best boxers ever to come out of the South.
Born in Florence, S.C. in 1923, McCrary has lived in New York, Florida and West Jefferson, N.C. He has worked in the automotive industry and as a banker. He and his wife Marjorie have three children.
LEE MEDLEY - Born in Gaffney, S.C. in 1945, Medley began boxing at age 7. Before he retired, he fought in over 200 bouts, losing only nine. He won 150 of his fights by knock out. He won 36 Golden Gloves championships and represented the Carolinas in the National Golden Gloves in Chicago, where he was runner-up to champion Terry Pearson. All of his accomplishments came before age 17.
Medley always went to a neutral corner, got on his knees and prayed before each fight. His coach Roy Turner regarded Medley as a hard worker in the ring who loved boxing. He played high school football, wrestled and was a member of the track team. Medley also played semi-pro football. He is active in his church and has received two community service awards.
Medley still spends time coaching boxing and other sports and has served on the Cherokee County Sports Commission. He was a pipe fitter, welder and boilermaker at Hoechst in Spartanburg S.C. for 37 years. Medley and his wife Velma have five children.
RICKEY BALLENGER - Rickey Ballenger has been called the best boxer that ever came from upper South Carolina. Ballenger, who died at the age of 33 in a 1978 industrial accident, won over 200 matches as an amateur.
Ballenger was a classy boxer with a devastating punch. He began boxing at an early age, as did many Gaffney children coached by Roy Turner. Ballenger won tournaments throughout the South, including the Carolinas Golden Gloves five times. While serving in the U.S. Army, he won the All Army and All Service Titles. He held the South Carolina heavyweight championship for several years, before losing to Jimmy Ellis in the 1968 Olympic trials. Gaffney residents view Ballenger as a legend. They speak of his friendly demeanor and his incredible boxing ability.
Ballenger worked in the construction industry. Upon his untimely death, he left a brother, Mike, also a boxer, sisters, Donna and Sarah, a daughter, Shannon Blanton and a granddaughter, Magen Blanton.
EDWARD HUDSON - Born on Dec. 13, 1946 in Sumter, S.C., Hudson started boxing at an early age. His amateur record was an impressive 108-12, winning tournaments in both Carolinas. After turning professional, Hudson compiled a record of 19-2-1. He was selected as one of Ring magazine's "Prospects of the Month" during his professional career. A heavy puncher with good ring instincts, Hudson had a streak of 32 consecutive wins at one point in his career.
A former Navy man, Hudson coached boxing in Sumter for several years. He retired from Georgia Pacific after 25 years and is now working in property development. He and his wife Dianne have three children.
H.L. "MATTY" MATTHEWS - If not for a love of coaching young people and World War I, Matthews might have become a major-league baseball player. He played minor-league baseball and many thought he had the talent to play in the majors. Matthews was born on Feb. 14, 1889, and began boxing in the Army in 1917. After giving up baseball, and his work as a stockbroker telegrapher, he became the boxing, baseball and track coach at The Citadel in 1926. He remained at the Citadel for 47 years.
As the boxing coach, his athletes won Southern Conference titles in 1941 and 1948. During his Citadel career, he coached Golden Gloves teams as well. Several of his protégés are members of the Carolinas Boxing Hall of Fame, including Burke Watson, Gunner Ohlandt Jr., Louis Lampesis and Harry Hitopoulos. He served as Charleston Boxing Commissioner and was known for the advice and guidance he shared with young athletes.
His boxers were known throughout the South as "Mattymen." He and his wife Elsa raised four children. The three boys were also boxers. Matthews died of a heart attack while gardening in 1975.
REGGIE MARTIN - Reggie Martin was born on May 1, 1942, in Gaffney, S.C. He began boxing with the Gaffney team in 1954. His career, which ended with a 61-12-1 record, got off to a rocky start as Martin lost his first six matches. However, the hard-punching Martin, noted for his persistence, put in the necessary work and developed the self-confidence to become a winning boxer.
Martin won Golden Gloves championships in both Carolinas, and was crowned open bantamweight champion at the Carolinas Golden Gloves in 1958. He represented the Carolinas at the National Golden Gloves Finals in New York City. Unfortunately, he lost a close decision to Cleveland's Julio Ruiz in his first fight.
Martin's coach, Roy Turner, called him a "good boy in and out of the ring." Martin attended Limestone College where he served as president of the Men's Association and was selected among the Who's Who in American Universities and Colleges. He eventually became a member of the Limestone College Hall of Fame. The father of two and grandfather of four, Martin is employed as a sales representative with Vaughn Belting.
DONALD MORRISON - Known as "Perpetual Motion Morrison," Morrison was one of the best service boxers to step into the ring. A career member of the Air Force, he won tournaments in Japan, Korea and Europe. Morrison was the United States Air Force Far East Champion in 1954, as well as Pacific and European champion during his 20-year military career. He fought in over 200 matches with very few losses.
During his time as a Sumter Optimist Club team member, he was undefeated. Morrison won the Charleston Golden Gloves in 1957, the Jacksonville Golden Gloves the same year and was a Florida AAU champion. He won the Eastern bantamweight crown in New York City in 1957 as a member of the U.S. Air Force. One of the boxers he defeated was Max Davis of Mount Holly, N.C.
Morrison continues to coach boxing and is involved in property development in Sumter S.C. Born in Rhode Island in 1929, Morrison and his wife June have lived in Sumter most of their lives. They are the parents of five children.