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Sylvester Stallone, Mike Tyson, Julio Cesar Chavez & Micky Ward: The Parade of Boxing Champions

 The International Boxing Hall of Fame announced today the real-life inspirations behind the Academy Award-winning motion picture The Fighter, junior welterweight star “Irish” Micky Ward and his brother / trainer Dicky Eklund have been named Grand Marshals of the 22nd Annual Boxing Hall of Fame Parade of Champions scheduled for Sunday, June 12th at 1 p.m.

Released in December 2010, The Fighter starred Mark Wahlberg as Ward and Academy Award-winner Christian Bale as Eklund. The film has won critical and fan praise and garnered two Golden Globes, two Screen Actors Guild awards and two Academy Awards.

“The Fighter really captured the public’s imagination and brought the incredible story of one of boxing’s ultimate warriors to a whole new audience,” said Hall of Fame Executive Director Edward Brophy. “We couldn’t be happier for Micky and Dicky and, along with boxing fans from around the world, we are very much looking forward to seeing them in Canastota leading the Parade of Champions.”

Boxing out of Lowell, MA, Ward was one of boxing’s most exciting fighters. He turned pro in 1985 and used a crowd-pleasing style to register a 38-13 (27 KOs) record that includes wins over Reggie Green, Emanuel Burton and Shea Neary for the WBU junior welter title. In 2002 and 2003 Ward engaged in an epic trilogy with Arturo “Thunder” Gatti (1-2). Following their third bout Ward announced his retirement from the ring. During his career, he was in “Fight of the Year” three times (2001 vs. Burton and 2002 and 2003 vs. Gatti).

“It’s an honor to be named grand marshal. It’s incredible and I’m really excited to be leading the parade of great champions and great people,” said Ward. “There’s no better place to be than Canastota in June with all the fans!”

An accomplished amateur, Lowell’s Eklund is a three-time Golden Gloves champion. He won 192 of 200 amateur bouts before joining the paid ranks in 1975. As a pro he campaigned for 10 years and, in 1978, famously fought Sugar Ray Leonard in Boston in a bout televised live on HBO. Outside of the ring, he trained Ward throughout his career, including the legendary trilogy with Arturo Gatti. Now a full-time trainer, Eklund is known for hisinsight into the boxing game.

“This is the greatest honor I’ve got since the movie!” said Eklund. “It will be fantastic to be in Canastota leading the parade with all of the world champions. There’s nothing better than that. To be the grand marshal is unbelievable.”

The Parade of Champions, set for Sunday, June 12th at 1:00 p.m., will pass through the streets of Canastota and lead to the grounds of the Hall of Fame Museum prior to the start of the Official Induction Ceremony honoring the new class of inductees. Living inductees to be honored at the Official Induction Ceremony are three-division champion Julio Cesar Chavez (Mexico), junior welterweight champion Kostya Tszyu (Russia / Australia), heavyweight champion Mike Tyson (USA), trainer Ignacio “Nacho” Beristain (Mexico), referee Joe Cortez (USA) and screenwriter Sylvester Stallone (USA). Posthumous inductees will also be honored.

Over 40 boxing stars will be highlighted in the Parade of Champions.

“With the lineup of marching bands, boxing celebrities, community organizations and now Micky and Dicky, this should be our biggest parade ever and an unforgettable day for all,” said parade chairperson Charlene Barres.

The 2011 Parade of Champions is sponsored by Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes.

The June 9-12th Hall of Fame Induction Weekend will feature many exciting events including a banquet, boxing autograph card show, cocktail party and the Official Induction Ceremony honoring the Class of 2011.

For more information on the Hall of Fame’s 22nd Annual Induction Weekend please call (315) 697-7095 or visit www.ibhof.com.

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