A boxing hall of fame styled after the Mob Museum? That’s an easy knockout

A boxing hall of fame styled after the Mob Museum? That’s an easy knockout

  • John L. Smith, CDC Gaming Reports
October 27, 2021 11:51 PM
  • John L. Smith, CDC Gaming Reports

Inside the new Resorts World casino-resort on the Las Vegas Strip, the 10-foot-tall statue towers over passersby outside the Mulberry Street Pizzeria.

Mike Tyson never looked so good and many of his opponents would have to admit there was a time during his long reign as heavyweight champion that he appeared just that menacing in the ring.

The statue itself was the idea of fight fan and Mulberry Street owner and founder Richie Palmer, who obviously appreciates Tyson’s impact on the sport.

The statue is a nice tribute to a giant of the Sweet Science, but it leaves me feeling more than a little nostalgic. Anyone who attended a major boxing event in Las Vegas during the sport’s heyday will likely remember the sensory experience of it forever.

Courtesy Mulberry Street Pizzeria

Beyond the remarkable bouts throughout all divisions, but especially in the middleweight and heavyweight classes, boxing events produced enormous boosts at the gaming tables – and not just for the host casino-resort. The fact is, the ripple effort of thundering matches featuring Hagler, Hearns, Leonard, Duran, Holmes, Tyson, and so many more was felt throughout the state’s economy.

The pay-per-view was great for the promoters and fighters and televised events generated glamor shots of Las Vegas that mere money couldn’t buy.

Although you wouldn’t know it from watching the efforts of Top Rank and the apparently ageless Bob Arum, the consensus is that the best years are behind the sport. Some blame changing times and demographics; others point to the rising popularity and savvy marketing of the Ultimate Fighting Championships mixed-martial-arts events for its body blow to boxing.

Whether you’re a diehard fight fan or an occasional viewer of the big-bout spectacles, you have to admit that boxing holds an indelible place in the pantheon of American sports.

That’s why, in this time of dramatic transition in Las Vegas, it makes more sense than ever to follow the lead of the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, better known as the Mob Museum, and create a museum that celebrates the professional fight game in all its glory, grit, and glamor.

Las Vegas is the ideal location for many reasons. Not only is it the site of so many memorable events in the modern era, but it also receives the annual foot traffic necessary to make such a museum viable.

What’s in it for the gaming industry?

By Jamie Davies – originally posted to Flickr as MGM Pacquiao Vs Hatton Pre Fight Ring

Curated properly in the right location, I believe it could become a must-see venue for throngs of visitors. Just as the Mob Museum has given thousands of tourists and many locals a great reason to revisit downtown, so too would a boxing museum, if presented in a spotlight befitting its impact on Las Vegas and the sports world in general.

The Baseball Hall of Fame attracts more than 250,000 fans each year to Cooperstown, NY, located a four-hour drive outside New York City. The Mob Museum draws 370,000, with two-thirds coming downtown specifically to walk through its doors.

There’s no shortage of boxing halls of fame. In addition to the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame founded by sports broadcaster Rich Marotta in 2012, the Las Vegas-based Boxing Hall of Fame (BHOF) possesses a trove of video and still fight footage.

From coast to coast, boxing halls great and small celebrate professional pugilism. Although some may argue there’s no shortage of shrines to the sport, nothing I’ve heard of approaches the curated breadth and depth of the Mob Museum’s effort to capture a history and a subculture in an entertaining way.

That’s what boxing needs and Las Vegas is the ideal place for it to exist.

An appropriately funded and curated museum dedicated to boxing’s heyday should be an easy knockout for the city that kept it in the spotlight for so long.