The first time I saw Hank Kaplan in person was over a decade ago at the annual Hall of Fame Weekend in Canastota. He had brought the late boxing greats Beau Jack and Kid Gavilan along with him from Florida to enjoy and share in the camaraderie of that yearly celebration of the "sweet science". Because of Hank, these two great former champions were given the opportunity to relive their glory years among true boxing fans and peers, even if only for a weekend. That was so typical of Hank Kaplan - whether it was boxing legends in the twilight of their years or unknown journeymen who never gained fame or fortune, Hank has always had a deep respect and affinity for those men who climbed through the ropes and into the glory and loneliness of the square ring. He has helped many fighters over the years, both in person and in keeping the memory alive of those who might otherwise be forgotten.
This year in Canastota, Hank Kaplan finally got his due, as he was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame Class of 2006. A modest and gracious man, he is well liked and respected by everyone who has had the pleasure to know him, and there is probably no one more deserving of this great honor. Hank has devoted much of his life to boxing and to preserving its history.
Kaplan has worn many hats during his long years associated with the "sweet science" - fighter (he had one pro fight, which he won), publicist, writer, publisher, promoter, consultant, archivist, and historian. He is believed to own the largest and most extensive boxing archive in the world and is widely sought after for his boxing knowledge and expertise. When the International Boxing Hall of Fame was first formed in 1989, Hank was instrumental in sharing his wealth of knowledge with the museum. He has served as chairman of the Hall of Fame's Induction Committee. He was finally convinced to step down from that role this year so that he would be eligible for induction - an honor many in boxing felt was long overdue. Thus, he was selected in this, his first year of on the ballot.
When informed of his selection to the Class of 2006, Kaplan stated: "I'm so completely overwhelmed to be included with a group I hold in such reverence. I can't describe the feeling. I hold the International Boxing Hall of Fame in such high regard. I am very much affected by my induction." Over the years, I've gotten to know this wonderful man and I always look forward to seeing him in Canastota each year. I'm thrilled to join the rest of the boxing community in honoring him. Congratulations, Hank - well deserved!
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