CANASTOTA, New York – The weather was unkind, and while there are plenty of places to shelter on the International Boxing Hall of Fame grounds, the thumping of rain on the amphitheater roof Friday could be heard with a frustrating regularity.

But that did not dampen the spirits of those in attendance on a day headlined by the 2024 inductees having their fists cast, molded to be set in copper and to be housed in the museum for posterity.

The day kicked off with this year’s inductees Jane Couch and Ana Maria Torres talking in a ringside lecture.

Couch, visibly moved by the growing enormity of the weekend, said that Torres was the Mexican version of Jane Couch and said that she was the English version of Torres, largely in respect to them both fighting on the road so often.

Couch has been a beaming presence throughout. The importance of her story, primarily her fight to get women’s boxing legalized in the U.K., cannot be understated. She took on an establishment that had no interest in what she was trying to do and now she is in the International Boxing Hall of Fame – and hardly anyone who opposed her is. What a warrior. 

Eric “Butterbean” Esch also held a ringside lecture and he was thoroughly engaging, coming across wonderfully well. Today, he is weighing a comparatively svelte 280 pounds and plans to weigh 250 pounds in six months. He’s a huge proponent of DDP Yoga and said that, having been wheelchair-bound for three years, he was ashamed to go out and had stopped going to events, withdrawing from the public eye.

“I was inducted into the Alabama Boxing Hall of Fame and I was too embarrassed to go,” he said. “And I’ve been invited here in the past and I was too embarrassed to come. I couldn’t get around, I couldn’t move. When you can’t move, you don’t believe in yourself and you’ve lost your self-esteem – that was my down. Now I’m going strong, I’m never looking back. I’m blessed.” 

There was also a poignant moment in the International Boxing Hall of Fame museum during the day. Inside, there are a couple of TV screens looping great fights and dramatic knockouts. The classic between Diego Corrales, who is posthumously part of the 2024 group to be enshrined, and Jose Luis Castillo came on just as Diego’s widow, Michelle, and family members walked by. They linked arms and watched Diego win that fabulous war one more time.

Saturday is a big day, with the likes of Ray Mercer, Lamon Brewster, Ricky Hatton, Jim Lampley, Sebastian Fundora and Gabriela Fundora (Sebastian’s sister), as well as former archrivals Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales expected to appear and give talks on the grounds. There is also the 5-kilometer fun run/walk and the always-popular autograph and memorabilia show, as well as a Q&A with a host of veteran referees.