Italian American Digest DIGEST Winter 2017 Final - Page 7

WINTER 2017 I talian A merican D igest PAGE 7 2018 LAISHF Honorees LAISHF cont. from previous page thirty seven years and is most proud of his four beautiful children: Adri- enne, Jamie, and the late Elizabeth and Robert Bruno. Robert has been a long time sup- porter of the Italian American Sports Hall of Fame and has been the Mas- ter of Ceremonies on numerous oc- casions and is highly honored to be inducted to this great Hall of Fame. J oseph M aselli H eritage A ward George Randazzo In 1977, George Randazzo found- ed the Italian American Boxing Hall of Fame as a way to raise money for a struggling local Catholic youth program. Randazzo collected box- ing photos and memorabilia, a hobby that inspired him to organize a fund- raising dinner that brought together a list of boxing greats and celebrities. The dinner honored 23 former Italian American boxing world champions, including Rocky Graziano, Jake LaMotta, Sammy Angott, Willie Pep, and posthumously Rocky Marciano, Primo Carnera and Tony Canzoneri. The results were so overwhelming that a friend and local businessman, Don Ponte, encouraged Randazzo to start a Hall of Fame to honor all Italian American athletes. One year later, the National Ital ian American Sports Hall of Fame was founded as a non-profit, educational institution. The first induction ceremony and banquet was a star-studded event, as the Hall of Fame honored Lou Am- bers, Eddie Arcaro, Charlie Trippi, Gino Marchetti, Dom DiMaggio and “The Yankee Clipper,” Joe DiMag- gio. Mrs. Vince Lombardi also accepted the post- humous induction of her late husband, Coach Vince Lombardi. In the years that followed, celebrities from all walks of life have come to the annual induction cer- emonies to pay tribute to outstanding Italian American sports champions and heroes. A special and uninvited guest took part in the 1980 induc- tion ceremony, as President Jimmy Carter offered his congratulations and addressed the crowd. In 1988 the Hall of Fame moved from its original headquarters in Elmwood Park to Arlington Heights. The NIASHF enjoyed a new beginning in 1998 with the help of Phoenix Suns Chairman/CEO Jerry Colangelo. A 1994 Inductee and Chicago Heights native, Colangelo was asked by Randazzo to serve as Chairman of an ambitious new Hall of Fame building project in the heart of Chicago’s Little Italy. Colan- gelo accepted, and has succeeded in bringing together civic-minded men and women from across the country in support of the project. In 2000 the new facility was dedicated as “The Jerry Colangelo Center,” a tribute to his efforts and leadership. Randazzo is a Vietnam veteran. In 2002, the National Ethnic Co- alition of Organizations in New York awarded Randazzo the Ellis Island Medal of Honor Award. In 2013, Randazzo received the National Ital- ian American Foundation’s Commu- nity Leadership Award.