Three days of appearances, events and a hall of fame induction have brought heavyweight boxing legends Michael Spinks and Earnie Shavers to the Grand Strand.
They are being hosted by local resident and former heavyweight champion James “Bonecrusher” Smith, who will induct them as the 2018 class into the fledgling Boxing Legends Hall of Fame.
Smith has the goal of opening a Boxing Legends Hall of Fame Museum in Myrtle Beach and has already had a few induction classes despite not having a building to house the hall.
Spinks and Shavers will be inducted Saturday in a ceremony in Crown Park Golf Club’s clubhouse in Longs.
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“I would like to encourage them to be the face of the Boxing Legends Hall of Fame project,” Smith said. “We’re known all over the world, and we want to grow into a Boxing Legends Hall of Fame Museum right here in Myrtle Beach.
“. . . We could have a family reunion in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on a regular basis.”
There are already a pair of recognized boxing halls of fame – the International Boxing HOF in Canastota, New York, and World Boxing HOF in Riverside, California.
The boxers have three days of activities and appearances planned including a Thursday press conference at Inlet Provision Company restaurant in Murrells Inlet, Friday appearances and autograph signings at 4 p.m. at Flynn’s Irish Tavern in North Myrtle Beach and 6 p.m. at the Golden Corral on U.S. 501.
A golf tournament scheduled for Saturday morning at Crown Park Golf Club has been postponed due to expected inclement weather, but a Saturday appearance is scheduled at 4 p.m. at the North Strand Recreation Center in Little River before the 6 p.m. start of the induction ceremony at Crown Park.
“We’re already working towards 2019 and we want to try to get Legends Golf Resort,” Smith said.
Smith said the HOF project hasn’t gained much traction. He’s hoping to partner with the City of Myrtle Beach to secure a Hall of Fame building, and he hopes to go on a fundraising tour with Spinks, Shavers and possibly other retired boxers.
Spinks, 62, held the undisputed light heavyweight title from 1983-85, and became heavyweight champion after moving up and defeating Larry Holmes. He won the gold medal in the middleweight division at the 1976 Summer Olympic Games, and was nicknamed “Jinx,” leading to his right hand being dubbed the “Spinx Jinx.” Spinks went 31-1 in his pro career, losing only to Mike Tyson in his final fight on a first-round knockout.
Shavers, 74, of Alabama, is considered by many to be the hardest puncher of all time, finishing his career in 1995 with a record 74-14-1 with 68 knockouts, including 23 in the first round.
He defeated heavyweight champions Ken Norton and Jimmy Ellis and lost to longtime champions Muhammad Ali, whom he hurt, and Larry Holmes, whom he knocked down. Spinks, a native of St. Louis, lives in Delaware, and his brother, former heavyweight champ Leon Spinks, lives in Las Vegas.
Smith, 65, held the WBA Heavyweight title in 1986-87 after defeating Tim Witherspoon, and was 44-17-1 in his pro career. Smith and Spinks knew each other as sparring partners for Joe Frazier.