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Duva among 13 tabbed for Boxing Hall of Fame

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As a Depression-era teenager growing up in Paterson, N.J., Lou Duva was a gym rat.

He would rush home from whatever job he had at the time, pack his older brother's boxing gear, quickly devour his supper and be ready when his brother headed off to train.It wasn't the aspiring fighters, though, that so galvanized the attention of the young Duva.

"When I went to the gyms and the training camps . . . I would watch the managers, the promoters, the trainers. I would watch the way they operated and how they handled things," Duva said.

"After it was over, I would go to the cafeteria with them and listen to their war stories. So I started hanging out with old-time managers like Jack Kearns, Bill Daly, learning what the business is all about."

Duva learned well.

On Sunday, he will be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, along with 12 other past greats and ring personalities, including light heavyweight champion Matthew Saad Muhammad, fly-weight champion Miguel Canto of Mexico and welterweight champion Antonio Cervantes of Colombia.

Duva will be enshrined in the nonparticipant category - an almost laughable irony because Duva could not have participated more fully. His career has covered it all: Fighter, trainer, manager, promoter.

"If there is a facet of boxing, I did it," said the 76-year-old Duva, who has devoted nearly six decades to boxing. "I've done everything in this business whether it was a cut-man or trainer, setting up the rings and chairs, making up posters, fixing matches up. I opened my own gym and trained guys. Anything in boxing, I've done.

"It became my life. It was what I wanted to be, what I wanted to do. I was enthused about everything about boxing, from every angle, every perspective."

That Duva excelled on the business side of boxing should not be surprising. His mentors were the masters: Kearns was best known as heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey's manager and is credited for the first million-dollar gate in boxing history when Dempsey fought Georges Carpentier in the early 1920s. The colorful Daly, another jack-of-all-trades ringman whose career spanned six decades, masterminded the rise of Carlos Ortiz, the world lightweight champion from 1962-1968.

Duva's string of champions has exceeded both men and has included Evander Holyfield, Pernell Whitaker, Meldrick Taylor, Vinny Pazienza, Bobby Czyz and Mark Breland.

"I think of Lou as a fighter for the fighters," said Joey Giardello, a 1993 Hall of Fame inductee who became Duva's first champion when he won the world middleweight title in 1963.