Christy Martin and Bernard Hopkins headline Boxing HOF class

CANASTOTA, N.Y. (AP) — Middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins, four-division champion Juan Manuel Marquez of Mexico, three-division champ Shane Mosley and women’s star Christy Martin have been elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

This was the first year that women were on the ballot and Barbara Buttrick of England and Lucia Rijker of the Netherlands joined Martin in making history as the first female boxers elected. Buttrick was elected in the Trailblazers category, while Martin and Rijker were elected in the Modern category.

Also elected by members of the Boxing Writers Association and a panel of international boxing historians were promoters Lou DiBella and Kathy Duva in the Non-Participant category and journalists Bernard Fernandez and Thomas Hauser in the Observer category.

Posthumous honorees include lightweight champion Frank Erne in the Old Timer category, Paddy Ryan in the Pioneer category and promoter Dan Goossen in the Non-Participant category.

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Nicknamed “The Coal Miner’s Daughter,” Martin, a native of West Virginia, began boxing on a dare in 1986 while still in college, entering and winning a “tough woman” contest. Although she graduated with honors from Concord College, Martin elected to pursue the sweet science and turned pro in 1989 while working as a substitute teacher in Tennessee.

Martin brought women’s boxing to the mainstream in the mid-1990s, becoming the first woman to sign a promotional contract with promoter Don King and landing on the cover of Sports Illustrated. She won the WBC super welterweight championship in 2009 and compiled a 49-7-3 record with 31 KOs in her career.

“I just wanted to be a fighter and fit into the world of boxing and this is a dream come true,” Martin said. “I’m always excited to come back to Canastota, but to come back this year will be very special.”

Hopkins holds the record for the most successful title defenses in middleweight boxing history at 20. He’ll join former middleweight champions Carlos Monzon, who successfully defended 14 times, and Marvelous Marvin Hagler, who defended 12 times, as a Hall of Famer on induction Sunday next June 14.

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“I’m glad I’m entering the house of greatness past and present,” Hopkins said. “Thanks to boxing, I became a greater inspiration to the world.”

Mosley, known for his quick hand speed, beat Oscar De La Hoya twice during a pro career that produced a record of 49-10-1 with 41 KOs.

“I’m so happy and honored,” Mosley said. “I’ve worked my whole life for this. Even when I started as a kid at 8 years old I knew this is what I wanted to do and what I wanted to be. I have accomplished my goals to be one of the greats and go into the Hall of Fame, so this is a great honor.”

Buttrick, who began boxing in her native England, came to United States in the 1950s to box legally and won a world championship while breaking down barriers.

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“This is wonderful news. It means a lot to me,” Buttrick said. “After I started out with everybody against me back in the 1940s, it is nice to be recognized.”

Rijker, the first licensed female boxer in her home country, was nicknamed “The Dutch Destroyer” and certainly lived up to the moniker. She made her pro debut in 1996, signed a promotional contract with Bob Arum’s Top Rank and won all 17 of her professional fights with 14 knockouts.

For Rijker, selection was an emotional moment.

“This is very moving,” she said. “As I entered normal life after boxing there is a memory of boxing that is in my heart and soul. There is really a strong connection I have to that era and I am really honored to be reminded of that time because sometimes there is a time in your life where everything comes together — mind, body and spirit — and definitely my boxing career aligned all three of them to be the best I could be on all levels. I’m very grateful for that and grateful to be recognized.”