Surrounded by many of the South Florida personalities he has written about for more than 30 years, Miami Herald boxing writer Santos A. Perez was inducted Sunday into the Florida Boxing Hall of Fame.
“This is truly an honor,” said Santos, 55, during ceremonies at the Sheraton Tampa East hotel. “Boxing has been a love of mine long before I wrote my first sentence for publication.”
Santos, who came to Miami from Cuba, grew to love the sport as a child, hearing stories from his father Jose. He has written for the Herald since 1995 and spent another 15 years before that writing on boxing for the Miami News and The Associated Press. He was at ringside in 1982 in the Orange Bowl for the historic bout between Alexis Arguello and Aaron Pryor, which is still considered perhaps the best fight ever held in Florida.
Santos thanked both those who have helped him along in journalism and the colorful people he has enjoyed writing about in a career that has illustrated his passion for the sport.
“Covering boxing has provided me with the opportunity to make an endless number of friends throughout the years,” he said. “This four-decade career covering boxing could not have been possible without the support of my family.”
Much of the 20-member Hall class had strong ties to Miami:
• Former heavweight Jose Ribalta, 51, who went 10 rounds with Mike Tyson in 1985 and later had a first-round technical knockout against former champ Leon Spinks in 1987, was among seven fighters inducted. He finished an 18-year career in 1999 with a record of 38-17-1 with 27 knockouts.
• Three Miami promoters — Walter Alvarez, Luis De Cubas and Felix “Tutico” Zabala Jr. — were inducted to the Hall as part of the same class. Alvarez, 67, helped stage the Arguello-Pryor fight in 1982 and is the father of speedskater Eddy Alvarez, who won a silver medal at the Olympics in Sochi, Russia, this year. De Cuba, 57, worked closely with Roberto Duran, and 46-year-old Zabala, of All Star Boxing, joined his father “Tuto” as the Hall’s first father-son duo.
• Boxers Tony Alongi, Kid Gavilan and Carl “Red” Guggino were posthumously honored. Alongi turned pro in 1959 and opened his career 27-0 before sustaining an eye injury in 1962. He retired in 1967 with a 40-2-4 record and died in 2003. Gavilan, world welterweight champion in 1951, had nine world-title bouts and retired in 1958 with 108 career wins. He died in Hialeah in 2003. Guggino won 114 career fights and took part in 94 bouts in Florida; he died in 1988.
• Also honored were trainer Jose Caron Gonzalez, who ran a gym in Miami and died in 1996, and Moe Fleischer, who ran the Fifth Street Gym in Miami Beach after being a successful promoter. He died in 1987.
• Alvin Goodman, an attorney who served on the Miami Boxing Commission and Florida State Athletic Commission, was honored after a long career training boxing judges. He died in 2008.