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Local Boxer Officially Joins Florida Hall of Fame

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ST. PETERSBURG – Over the weekend, the Florida Boxing Hall of Fame (FBHOF) hosted a multi-day celebration to welcome several new members into its family. The festivities, which were held at the Hilton Lake Carillon in St. Petersburg, culminated in the induction of 24 members on Sunday.

The event kicked off Friday evening with a meet-and-greet cocktail party followed by a live auction. Saturday was a full slate for attendees as first castings and inductee interviews stretched from morning throughout the afternoon. After a seminar, documentary viewing, and a round table discussion, the night was capped off with a gala dinner and a FBHOF Talk featuring keynote speaker Mike Silver.

After a hearty breakfast to start Sunday morning, the American Legion Post 5 Honor Guard presented the colors to open the induction ceremony. Singer Mark Raisch then performed the National Anthem before famous ring announcer Bob Alexander stepped up to the podium to introduce the new members of the prestigious boxing brotherhood.

One by one, each fighter or contributor to the sport came forward to speak. Every inductee had a unique story to tell about how they made it to the podium on Sunday. Edner “The Bomb” Cherry fought back from a heart attack that stopped his heartbeat for three entire minutes. The scare forced him to retire from boxing with a strong 37-7-2 record (19 knockouts), and he now serves the cherished role of devoted husband and father.

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In a previous issue announcing his induction-to-be, the Sun detailed much of Chelo Jose “Chelo Man” Alonzo’s life. The boxer has had an illustrious career that saw him win the WBA Fedecentro Championship over Alberto Albaladejo in Tampa, which made him the first Hernando County resident to hold a professional boxing title. He was not done. Following a broken ankle and an eight-year hiatus from the sport, Alonzo returned to become the Florida State Super Middleweight Champion and finished his career with a 13-1-7 record.

On Sunday, Alonzo thanked God and a long list of people who helped him get to where he is, and he emphasized the importance of his family in getting there. Nearly all of them were there to cheer him on as a massive crowd of family, friends, and fans were there to see him officially join Florida’s Boxing Hall of Fame.

His biggest supporter and wife, Cristina, was crucial in helping him overcome the most daunting fight of his life. While leaving a dance hall in 2018 with Cristina, Alonzo sustained bullet wounds that tore through his stomach and colon. He underwent 27 procedures (3 major), suffered from sepsis, and embarked on an 8-month recovery process.

He did not just have to battle for his physical health, though. He would also fall into a depression. It would ultimately be his wife that brought him out of it. “I need you back,” Cristina said to him. “I need my champion. Fitness doesn’t define you. It was and always will be a part of you, but you are so much more. You are a champion at heart, and there’s nothing you can’t succeed at because you’re a champion,” she told the FBHOF.

She implored him to join her in real estate so they could “dominate together.” That is just what he did, and with their combined strengths, the couple made their real estate brokerage firm, a successful business that allows Chelo to give back to his community. For always being by his side throughout his journey, Alonzo surprised Cristine with a Hall of Fame ring of her very own.

“That was something that I was able to do,” Alonzo said. “I wanted to make it happen because they allowed me to. She has been through all my struggles, trials, and tribulations. She deserves it. She is my Hall of Famer.”

All of the individuals (18 living, 2* deceased, 4 special awards) that were honored and welcomed into the FBHOF Class of 2024 are listed below:

Fighters:
John John Molina
Raul Frank
Edner Cherry
Chelo Jose “CheloMan” Alonzo
David Diaz
Stacy Prestage
Saoul Mamby*
Arthur Williams*

Trainers/Managers:
William “Papo” Vargas
Sherman Henson

Promoters:
Khalilah Escalera
Media:
Jorge Ebro

Participants:
John Beninati
Carl King
Raul Alvarez
Marc Hager

Officials/Commission:
Chris Young
Dr. Mark Gordon
Tim Shipman
Kathy Gentile
Special Achievement:
Ivan Echevarria
Carlos Albuerne

Long-Time Loyalty Award:
Bradley Ware

Walter A. Flansburg Lifetime Award:
Geri Atkinson-Hazelton

Directly after the induction, while Alonzo was taking pictures with friends and family, the Florida boxing legend received even more good news. He will serve as a supervisor and will sanction fights with the National Boxing Association.

Alonzo was grateful for both honors and is thankful for the opportunity to be counted among boxing legends like Muhammad Ali. “To be part of the NBA World Title, it is a dream come true just like this,” Alonzo continued. “I am lost for words, was not expecting this. The Florida Boxing Hall of Fame has never seen anything like this.”

Cristina (left) and Jose Alonzo (right) celebrate their Hall of Fame rings after the induction ceremony on Sunday. [Photo by Austyn Szempruch]
Cristina (left) and Jose Alonzo (right) celebrate their Hall of Fame rings after the induction ceremony on Sunday.
[Photo by Austyn Szempruch]
Chelo Jose Alonzo (left) and John Molina (right) show off their new FBOH rings on Sunday. [Photo by Austyn Szempruch]
Chelo Jose Alonzo (left) and John Molina (right) show off their new FBOH rings on Sunday.
[Photo by Austyn Szempruch]
Chelo Jose Alonzo celebrates with a huge group of family and friends at the Marriott where the induction ceremony took place on Sunday. [Photo by Austyn Szempruch]
Chelo Jose Alonzo celebrates with a huge group of family and friends at the Marriott where the induction ceremony took place on Sunday.
[Photo by Austyn Szempruch]

Austyn Szempruch
Austyn Szempruch
Austyn Szempruch is a Graduate with Distinction, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. He's written numerous articles reporting on Florida Gators football, basketball, and soccer teams; the sports of rugby, basketball, professional baseball, hockey, and the NFL Draft. Prior to Hernando Sun he was a contributor to ESPN, Gainesville, FL and Gator Country Multimedia, Inc. in Gainesville, FL, and Stadium Gale.
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