Ex-champs, brother linked to Smollett highlight boxing fundraiser in Elk Grove Village
Two former boxing world champions will highlight the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame's Night at the Fights fundraiser Thursday in Elk Grove Village.
But they may share the spotlight with amateur boxer Abimbola "Bola" Osundairo. While not a household name for his ring skills, Osundairo and his brother have gained fame as likely prosecution witnesses in the Cook County case against actor Jussie Smollett, who's accused of paying the siblings to stage an attack on him.
Belvedere Events and Banquets on Devon Avenue will be the venue for the 11th annual amateur boxing tournament. Doors open at 6 p.m., with the first of eight bouts starting at 7 p.m.
Guests will get to mingle with celebrities including former lightweight champ Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini, onetime heavyweight champion Larry Holmes and actor Jon Seda, who for seven years played Detective Antonio Dawson on NBC's "Chicago P.D."
Night at the Fights Co-Chairman Bill Conforti said Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White and some suburban mayors also are expected to attend.
"It's going to be a great boxing show," Conforti said.
Osundairo became a Chicago Golden Gloves champion in April 2019 with a TKO of his opponent in the senior novice division. He fights out of Hamlin Park in Chicago, where Conforti has been involved for at least 20 years.
"He's a great person, No. 1," Conforti said of Osundairo. "No. 2, he's a great fighter."
As part of the evening, Italian American Sports Hall of Fame representatives will present two annual awards.
Lou Manfredini, a home-improvement guru whose weekly "HouseSmarts Radio" talk show airs on WGN 720-AM and other stations, will receive this year's Gary Hall Friendship Award. The award recognizes someone who has demonstrated leadership qualities in bringing people together for charitable causes.
Belmont Bank and Trust executive Michael Leonetti will receive the 2020 Les Trilla Champions Award honoring an individual who consistently and favorably answers the call to provide support for hall of fame fundraising efforts.
Conforti said individual tickets are $125 and $1,750 for a preferred table of 10 near the ring. The event includes an Italian buffet and open bar with beer and wine. To purchase tickets, call (312) 226-5566 or visit niashf.org/events.
George Randazzo of Bloomingdale, who died in July, founded the hall of fame in a Bensenville storefront in 1977. The nonprofit organization moved to Arlington Heights in 1988 and Chicago's Little Italy neighborhood in 2000.
But the museum's brick-and-mortar home on Taylor Street closed in 2018 and organization directors say they are committed to bringing prized collectibles Randazzo amassed -- such as Rocky Marciano's first heavyweight championship belt -- out of storage. They've focused their efforts on opening a new permanent museum in Rosemont.
In the 41 years he ran the hall, Randazzo inducted about 270 athletes, including Joe DiMaggio, Mary Lou Retton and Tony Esposito. The organization continues to raise money for scholarships and charitable causes.