SYLACAUGA, Ala. — The late W.G. “Bill” Irby will be inducted into the Alabama Boxing Hall of Fame in a ceremony at Tuscaloosa’s River Market Friday night.  Irby will join the Class of 2018’s headliner, Evander Holyfield, and three other boxing icons on the stage.

Holyfield, an Atmore native, will be inducted in the Pro Boxer category. He won the heavyweight championship a record four times during his career. He is best remembered for his fights against Mike Tyson, Riddick Bowe, and Lennox Lewis

The former champion will be inducted along with Ozark’s Byron Mitchell in the Amateur Boxer category; the late Eugene Tillman of Mobile in the Old Timer category; Flynn Gerald in the Support Personnel category; and with Irby, who goes in as a Manager/Trainer/Promoter.

Actually, Irby could have also been a candidate in the Old Timer category, because his last fight was before 1950.  His career spanned all phases of boxing. He fought as an amateur in high school and at Tulane University where he was on a boxing scholarship.  He also had 30 professional fights and was a sparring partner for heavyweight champion James J. Braddock who predicted that Irby would one day be the champion of the world.

Later he coached boxing teams in Sylacauga from the late 1940’s to the mid-1950’s.  He also promoted dozens of boxing and wrestling matches in the Marble City.  Almost 100 percent of the proceeds from those events went to the formation and maintenance of the Sylacauga Boys Club which he started in the late 1940’s.

Outside the world of boxing, Irby was a special person, and much of his energy was spent working for the betterment of young people.  He received the Silver Beaver Award from the Boy Scouts of America, which is the highest honor an adult can achieve in the scouts. His contributions to the Sylacauga Boys Club were unmatched, especially in the area of fund raising and by his personal gifts of time and money.

He was also the editor of the Avondale Sun the company newspaper; was a member of the Sylacauga Board of Education; and was active in every civic activity imaginable.  When he and wife were killed in a tragic automobile accident in 1971, the Sylacauga Boys Club name was changed to the W.G. “Bill” Irby Boys Club as a lasting memorial to the legacy that he had built.

The ceremonies in Tuscaloosa to induct the five members of the 2018 Hall of Fame Class will be surrounded by a card of professional boxing matches. One of the featured fighters will be Marsellos Wilder, the younger brother of the current WBC Heavyweight Champion Deontay Wilder.

Tickets for the event are available for $50 or $100 for reserved or general admission seating respectively. Dinner and an event souvenir program are included.  Starting time will be 7:00 p.m. at the River Market in downtown Tuscaloosa. For more information call 205-799-1696.

This Story via Earl Lewis


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