CANASTOTA, New York  – The crowds started forming after lunch on Thursday’s opening day of the 2024 International Boxing Hall of Fame Weekend, on the grounds at Canastota.

Hall of Fame founder Ed Brophy had earlier taken part in a press conference to discuss the weekend’s upcoming events at the Turning Stone Casino, in nearby Verona, New York, which ran alongside Golden Boy’s presser for its fight card at the casino Friday night.

Back on the grounds, Jackie Kallen was the first guest on stage with host James “Smitty” Smith. She took questions from the audience and was followed by fellow 2024 inductee Ivan Calderon.

There was a torrential downpour, but later in the day, on stage for the formal opening of the events were 2024 Hall of Famers Ricky Hatton, Michael Moorer, Calderon, Jane Couch, Fred Sternburg and Ana Maria Torres. They were joined by Julian Jackson, Jesse James Leija, Erik Morales, Butterbean and Jim Lampley, who each took a moment to say something.

“This is one of the best moments of my career. I can see what I’ve achieved and show my husband and my kids,” said Torres.

“I’m glad to be up here with all these champions, making my dreams come true,” added Calderon, while Mexican great Morales said he was happy to be there with his boxing family and surrounded by fellow Hall of Famers.

Butterbean said it was great to be in Canastota, and publicist Sternburg said, “This is just terrific. This is the last place I ever expected to be, on this stage. I’m thrilled to be in the company of all of you and everyone up here.”

He was joined by longtime friend Lampley, visiting the grounds for the first time since he was enshrined in 2015.

Leija said, with real poignancy, “As I look out here and see some of the fighters, I feel what the fighters have gone through in their lives. We struggle so hard and for so long just to feed our family and pay the rent, and now you see some of the finest fighters in the world who have fought through those struggles, and these are world champions not just inside the ring but outside the ring.”

Julian Jackson added: “Life in general is taking a risk. I truly believe everyone up here has taken a chance in life, and that’s why you’re in the position that you’re in.

“Boxing is special. It took me off the streets and made me someone – and not what I was supposed to be. I adore what boxing has done and what it’s doing to athletes around the world.”

Former light heavyweight and heavyweight champion Moorer said it was a pleasure to be in attendance.

“A lot of people say it’s long overdue. It’s not overdue, it’s appreciated,” he stated.

“I never thought I’d been in the situation I’d be in now and I’m very grateful to be a part of this class.”

Couch, who has had a tremendous journey, even having to fight – and win – for women to be allowed in boxing, said: “I’m just privileged to be amongst all these legends. I can’t believe I’m here. Just to be recognized by the Hall of Fame.” And her compatriot Hatton rang the bell to formally open proceedings, joking, “I’m sorry for bringing the weather over with me.

“It’s really special to be here. The fans were everything to me. They dragged me over the line so many times, so it’s great to be here to spend the week with the fans. 

“To think I’m sat here and my plaque is going on the wall, I will never be able to get my head round that.”