SUPERMAN BOXING CONNECTION
Superman Celebration June 8-11 – Metropolis, Illinois
2016 Superman Celebration
Story by John and Alex Rinaldi
The 2016 Superman Celebration in Metropolis, Illinois, opened on a somber note, due to the sad fact that 230 miles away in the city of Louisville, located in the neighboring state of Kentucky, the great Muhammad Ali was being laid to rest in his hometown.
As a tribute to Muhammad Ali, on display in the Super Museum owned by Jim Hambrick, nestled in the center of Metropolis, is the statuette of the epic battle between Superman “The Man of Steel” and Muhammad “The Greatest” Ali. The item is based on the famous 72-page, 1978 Superman vs. Muhammad Ali comic book that was penned from an original story by Dennis O’Neil, adapted by Neal Adams (who also did the pencils and figure inks) and background inks by Terry Austin. The story featured heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali being recruited by the Earth’s greatest hero Superman to save the world from an alien invasion.
Also exhibited at the Super Museum are plenty of items related to former amateur boxing champion George Reeves, who portrayed “The Last Son of Krypton” in the 1950’s television series The Adventures of Superman. Reeves’ Superman costume, Clark Kent suit, fedora, glasses and original set pieces from the iconic, groundbreaking series are on display for fans to enjoy. To make the Superman boxing connection even more complete, on the actual typewriter used by Clark Kent (George Reeves) in his Daily Planet office, sits a copy of The USA Boxing News showcasing Reeves’ career.
As usual, there was also an abundance of activities and fun events on hand to entertain the huge crowds that make a yearly pilgrimage to the banks of the Ohio River on the southernmost part of Illinois. One such activity on Saturday night was a charity auction to raise funds to restore Metropolis’ historic Massac Theatre, a 1930’s era art-deco theater that not only played memorable movies through the years, but also post-fight championship films featuring many classic Joe Louis and Rocky Marciano battles. In fact, On January 20, 1970, the Massac was one of 1500 theaters that premiered the one night-only viewing of the Rocky Marciano vs. Muhammad Ali computer fight that was shown in theaters in the United States, Canada and throughout Europe, grossing a whopping $5 million.
Lisa Gower, who heads the Save the Massac Benefit, said that the auction earned $3,068.64. It is a great cause and The USA Boxing News was more than happy to donate some items to help raise funds to renovate a bygone era building that hopes to entertain a new generation of movie and theater goers well into the 21st Century.
There were similarly a plethora of fun events for people of all ages such as The Superman Radio Show, illusionist Morgan Strebler, Superman Homepage Meet & Greet, Superman Supersite Meet & Greet, Kids Superhero Costume Contest, Super Silly Games, Comics Workshop with Josh Elder, Superman Road Race, Superman Film Festival, Super Friends Bowling, Kiwanis Superman Trek Bike Ride, Jason Lindsey Hooked on Science, Super Cruise-In Classic Car Show, Freestyle BMX Bike Show, Superman vs. Batman Tug of War, Artists Alley and Puppet Making with Kevin Williams and Muley, among the many other events in store for visitors and Superman enthusiasts.
In addition to the other events, The USA Boxing News each year sponsors a Superman Trivia (Jeopardy) Game, which is performed on Friday and Saturday afternoon to packed houses. Hosted by the editors of The USA Boxing News, John and Alex Rinaldi, trivia questions are given out not only to the contestants onstage, but also to the audience in attendance. If that is not enough, at the end of the second game on Saturday, prizes are also given out to anyone who did not win during the Friday and Saturday games. Just like the fourteen previous years, this year featured plenty of fun and high drama as Patrick James O’Neil surprisingly edged out perennial champion Chris Brockow in both games to become once again a Superman Trivia Champion! With the pair of victories in both 2015 and 2016, O’Neil is now a 4-straight Superman Trivia Champion and is without question the man to beat in 2017. So fans and future contestants, be on the lookout for him next year!
One of the Superman Trivia contestants and former champion, Zach Curtis, hosted a Superman Collectibles Meet and Greet, which he followed up with a fascinating auction of his own. Zach’s Superman Collectibles can also be followed on FACEBOOK.
Longtime Superman Celebration head Karla Ogle hosted the “Superhero Serial” Eating Contest, where contestants had their choice of either the Superman or Batman cereals. The event filled up the Man of Steel tent and produced a lot of laughs and thrills for both the participants and the audience. The first contestant to finish her/his large bowl of cereal was declared the champion. To the surprise of many of hand, the winner was none other than The USA Boxing News’ own Editor and Publisher, John Rinaldi!
On Sunday, June 12, the wonderful Superman Celebration concluded with the 30th Annual Metropolis Rotary Club Super Car Show, the USAA Arm Wrestling Tournament, the Parade of Superheroes and Super Villains, the MSC Heroes and Villain Costume Contest and the Superman Closing Ceremony.
Also on Sunday was another crowd favorite, the Stump the Superman Expert Game hosted by Chris and Helen Brockow. Once again, fans were able to test their Superman expertise to outsmart other knowledgeable Superman aficionados.
In Metropolis, other sights and places to visit besides the Super Museum are the fascinating Americana Hollywood Museum and Fort Massac.
Each year the Annual Superman Celebration gathers a large crowd of people from all points on the globe, who enjoy the events, games, attractions, food vendors, souvenir vendors, museums and celebrities. Unlike many attractions across the United States, the prices are either free or extremely affordable. Either way, a splendid and super time is guaranteed for all who attend.
Up, up and away to the 2017 Superman Celebration!
THE USA BOXING NEWS SPONSORS ITS 16TH ANNUAL SUPERMAN JEOPARDY GAME IN METROPOLIS, ILLIONOIS DURING THE SUPERMAN CELEBRATION
THE ANNUAL SUPERMAN CELEBRATION AND ITS SUPER BOXING CONNECTION
George Reeves is honored – a man who traded in his boxing gloves for a red cape
Story by Joseph Rinaldi and Ron John Rinaldi
METROPOLIS, IL. In times like today when families have to squeeze the most out of their hard earned dollars, especially for vacations, an event that always proves to be a mighty one is the annual Superman Celebration in Metropolis, Illinois.
And it is a celebration certainly worth going to.
Although everyone knows the almost biblical tale of the child from another planet who grows up to be a positively super-man among earthlings, many are not aware of the connection between The Man Of Steel and those who fight with fists of steel, namely boxing and boxers. Not surprisingly, Boxing and Superman have always shared a close historical relationship.
Little do people realize that boxing plays an important part in Superman lore. When Max Schmeling was preparing for his fabled 1938 rematch with Joe Louis in 1938, Germany celebrated Schmeling as an “Aryan Superman.”
When the great Rocky Marciano was an unbeatable heavyweight champion during the 1950’s, he was known as a “Superman” in the ring.
Besides the metaphorical comparisons, former title challenger Buddy Baer actually appeared in an episode in the 1950’s classic television show, The Adventures of Superman, and former heavyweight boxing contender Jack “The Giant” O’Halloran, who fought such renowned heavyweights as George Foreman, Ron Lyle, Joe Bugner, Ken Norton, Cleveland Williams and Terry Daniels, appeared as the Kryptonian villain Non in two classic films, Superman The Movie and Superman II.
An even more interesting connection is the comic book story where the legendary Muhammad Ali fought Superman in the famous late 1970’s comic book, Superman vs. Muhammad Ali: The Fight To Save Earth From the Star-Warriors.
In fact, the greatest and most beloved actor yet to play Superman was actually a light-heavyweight fighter who boxed during his college years in the late 1930’s. This boxer was none other than the illustrious George Reeves.
Reeves was born George Brewer Reeves in Woolstock, Iowa in 1914. His parents later divorced and his mother then married Frank Bessolo, who adopted George. The future “Man of Steel” soon took up the name George Bessolo and fought under the same name.
In 1932, a Pasadena, California sportswriter named Mannie Pineta, who once sparred with Reeves, later said in Garry Grossman’s Superman Serial To Serial book, “George was the greatest ring prospect in 1932. His mother wouldn’t let him fight, because she was afraid that he’d get banged up and ruin his budding acting career.”
Although George became a highly talented and gifted collegiate boxing champion, on account of his nose being badly broken in a fight, which was the seventh time it happened, George’s mother eventually begged him to leave the ring. The young man then took up acting, and changed his name back to George Reeves. Within a few short years, this strapping young actor appeared in 1939’s classic film Gone With The Wind.
Twelve years later, Reeves would go from appearing in the biggest film of all-time to playing the biggest part ever in what was to be an iconic role in the soon to be legendary The Adventures of Superman television series.
In 1951, George initially signed on to appear as “The Man of Steel” in Superman and the Mole Men. After the filming of the movie, George then began starring in the television show The Adventures of Superman from 1951 to 1957. If one looks closely at the series, especially the Season One episodes, Reeves’ Superman throws punches just like that of a prizefighter.
In 1959, with the popularity of the show still mounting, George was contracted to film an additional season of 26 episodes as well as go on an exhibition tour with the then reigning light heavyweight champion Archie Moore. Sadly, he was murdered on June 16, 1959. Because of a reportedly corrupt at the time Los Angeles Police Department, his death was wrongly ruled a suicide to shield the real killers, who were either one of the three suspects: (1) his current girlfriend, who had a history of violence, (2)his former girlfriend, who was still infatuated with him, or (3) his former girlfriend’s big shot Hollywood executive husband, who apparently had major underworld and police connections.
Regardless of who the murderer was, George Reeves cruelly met an untimely and tragic death at age 45.
But, though everyone dies, only few survive in the hearts and minds of others long after their death. These are the legends, the icons, the bigger than life characters, celebrities or historical figures who somehow manage to develop a post-life, a shelf-life, a cult existence, so to speak, well beyond what was ever imagined or expected.
Thankfully, in Metropolis, Reeves’ memory still lives vividly on as his costumes and memorabilia are on display at the Super Museum run by the world renowned super collector Jim Hambrick.
Each year the town of Metropolis, which also has a colorful 15 ft. statue of Superman standing directly in the town square, honors the most famous super hero of them all – Superman!
In addition to that, other attractions to see in the magical hamlet known as Metropolis is a life-size statue of Noel Neill, the popular actress who played Lois Lane in The Adventures of Superman from 1953-1958, and the Americana Hollywood Museum, which is wonderful museum filled with priceless show biz memorabilia, including the robot from the legendary Lost in Space series, the shoes of the monster worn by Boris Karloff in the classic horror film Frankenstein, along with a plethora of other exciting exhibits. From Elvis, to Marylyn Monroe, to Harry Houdini, to John “The Duke” Wayne, celebrities and other icons almost magically come to life in this one of a kind museum.
It is widely and often said that “sometimes it takes a village,” and a village Metropolis certainly is. Still, the celebration stemmed from the brainchild of Jim Hambrick, who has the largest collection of Superman memorabilia in the entire world. Beginning originally as a traveling museum, Hambrick eventually took his storied collection with him and settled in Southern Illinois. Located on the border of Illinois and Kentucky, separated only by the Ohio River, Hambrick eventually staked down his flag in the Town of Metropolis. Starting with a permanent Super Museum then later with the Americana Hollywood Museum, the great collector finally found that special home to display not only his vast Superman collection, but also his other priceless and rare movie memorabilia along with various entertainment artifacts.
The U.S.A. Boxing News is also honored in a display in the Super Museum that features the original furniture and props from the classic 1950’s TV show The Adventures of Superman. Other displays include the original costumes of iconic 1950’s Superman TV star George Reeves and Superman movie star Christopher Reeve, along with original items, costumes, and props from Smallville, Superboy, Supergirl and Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.
Besides Jim Hambrick, the other heroes of the celebration are Celebration Chairpersons Karla Ogle and Lisa Gower, along with the entire Metropolis Tourism staff, featuring a crew of workers and volunteers who provide a wonderful time for all the visitors who attend from nearly forty states and countries are far off as Australia.
In 2005, the editors of The USA Boxing News, John and Alex Rinaldi, were proudly awarded with the SUPERMAN OF METROPOLIS Award in recognition of superior achievement by the Metro-Chamber in the great city of Metropolis, home of Superman, and in the spirit of Superman, by helping to make the world a better place.
In the following year, 2006, which was an exciting one for the Celebration with the release of the popular film Superman Returns, the Rinaldi Family (John, Alex, Janine, Ron John, Alexander, Juliann, and Joseph) achieved the highest honor by being awarded the George “Superman” Reeves Award, which is known simply as “The George” Award. The Award has the same size and look as the Academy Awards’ “Oscar” statuette. But instead of being just a bare, stark statuette, “The George” Award bears the likeness of George Reeves in his famous superman pose.
At the recent 2015 Superman Celebration, events included the Superman Road Race at Ft. Massac State Park, Super Fan Baseball Game, Puppetry for Television Workshop, “Fortress of Jellotude” Eating Contest hosted by Karla Ogle, Super City Crossfit Challenge, K9 Trick Dog Show, Kids Superhero Costume Contest, Costume Parade, Superman v. Batman Tug of War, USA Championship Wrestling with Jerry Lawlor, Superman Classic Push/Pull Competition, Superman Radio Show, Superman Supersite Meet and Greet, Superman Homepage Meet and Greet, Freestyle Connection BMX Bike Show, Superman Scavenger Hunt, Heroes and Villain Costume Contest, and the Stump the Superman Expert Game Show hosted by world-known Superman expert Chris Brockow and his wife Helen, along with many other fun activities.
Even the editors of The U.S.A. Boxing News join in the festivities as they annually present their highly anticipated and popular Superman Trivia Game both on Friday and Saturday afternoon. Hosted by John and Alex Rinaldi, along with assistance from their children Joseph, Ron John, Alexander, Juliann and Janine, the two performances score a knockout every year with the fans. This past year was doubly thrilling when contestant Patrick O’Neal became a 2-time Superman Trivia champion by capturing a pair of come-from-behind victories.
Another fantastic part of the celebration is that there are many people walking along the street dressed up as a Super Heroes or well-known Villains. The Superman Celebration is the only place in the world where it is actually cool to walk around as a costumed hero. In a wholly memorable way, the Super Heroes also bring a sense of imagination to the festivities as the characters actually love posing with fans.
Another popular attraction are the celebrity guests that visit and greet the fans. In the past former Superman actors Kirk Alyn from the Superman Serials in 1948 and 1950, Dean Cain from Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman that ran from 1993-1997, and Brandon Routh from 2006’s Superman Returns (and who is now playing Atom Man in the CW’s Arrow and the upcoming Legends of Tomorrow show) have made their way to Metropolis to wow and excite the crowds.
Besides the actors who played Superman, other guests in the past included such actors from the popular show Smallville as John Schneider (Jonathan Kent and also Bo Duke from The Dukes of Hazzard show), Michael Rosenbaum (Lex Luthor), Allison Mack (Chloe Sullivan), John Glover (Lionel Luthor), Cassidy Freeman (Tess Mercer), Justin Hartley (Oliver Queen/Green Arrow), Sam Witmer (Davis Bloome/Doomsday), Laura Vandervoort (Kara/Supergirl), Alessandro Juliani (Dr. Emile Hamilton and also Officer Sekowsky from 2013’s Man of Steel blockbuster film) and Alaina Huffman (Black Canary).
There were also two actors who played the title character in the Superboy TV series that ran from 1988-1992, John Haymes Newton (Season 1) and Gerard Christopher (Seasons 2-4) who also made visits to the Annual Superman Celebration.
Without a doubt, one of the best celebrities ever to appear, as well as being a major fan favorite, was none other Adam West, who played the title character in the iconic Batman series that ruled the airwaves from 1966-1968. West was generous with his time, was friendly with the fans, and was an all-round wonderful man.
The guests at the 2015 Celebration were Candice Patton (Iris West on The Flash TV program), Caity Lotz (Black Canary on the Arrow TV show), Diane Sherry Case (Lana Lang from Superman: The Movie), Stacy Haiduk (Lana Lang from the Superboy TV series), and John Shea (Lex Luthor from Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman TV show).
The Superman Celebration is also the type of event where one could develop lifelong friendships. The Rinaldi Family can vouch for that.
The celebration is hosted by the Metropolis Area Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by the City of Metropolis and the Metropolis Area Tourism Commission.
Like in the sport of boxing, all of the workers and volunteers of Metropolis are Champions in their own right. They make the early part of summer days – into Super Days, for the guests that arrive from all over the planet.
So next year if you want to go somewhere for a long weekend and have a wonderful time, all you have to do is look up in the sky and fly out to Metropolis, Illinois for the 2016 Superman Celebration. A super time is guaranteed for all!
Information concerning the Superman Celebration can be obtained from the following website: http://www.supermancelebration.net
MUHAMMAD ALI V. SUPERMAN
The Comic Book Fight of the Century
By John and Alex Rinaldi
In 1978, DC Comics rocked the sports and comic book worlds when it published an oversized comic book featuring the popular and iconic heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali facing the mightiest of super heroes – the one and only Superman – in a fight to save the Earth from the Star-Warriors called the Scrubb. Written by Dennis O’Neil and Neal Adams and drawn by Adams, Dick Giordano and Terry Austin, the story and likeness not only had to be approved by DC Comics, but also by Muhammad Ali and the Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad. Besides the story involving the fantastic pairing of Muhammad Ali and Superman, is the cover artwork that makes the issue so memorable and such a big collector’s item to this day.
Taking a page out of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band record album, the Ali vs. Superman comic features on its cover and back page, comic likenesses of giants in the entertainment and sports arenas, as well as those in the comic book and super hero worlds. Even U.S. Presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford were prominent at ringside for the battle. Some of the more notable personalities were The Beatles, Cher, Johnny Carson, The Jackson Five, Ron Howard, Noel Neil, Jack Larson, Donny and Marie Osmond, Christopher Reeve, Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Woody Allen, John Wayne, Lucille Ball and Dick Clark, to name just a few. Besides that, there were sports celebrities such as Pele and Joe Namath, and even the creators of Superman, Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster. Not to be satisfied with real-life people, the cover also includes some legendary super heroes in their secret identity forms, such as Barry Allen (Flash), Hal Jordan (Green Lantern), Diana Prince (Wonder Woman), Oliver Queen (Green Arrow) and Ray Palmer (Atom). Batman and Plastic Man were also ringside, as well as Mad Magazine’s cover boy Alfred E. Neuman. To promote the Ali vs. Superman comic, DC had ads looking like actual fight posters in their line of comic books ballyhooing the upcoming comic superfight. The Comic begins with the aliens Scrubb, from the Planet Bodace, threatening to destroy the planet Earth unless it sends its greatest fighter to face Bodace’s champion Hun‘Ya.
Since it is without question that Superman and Ali are the planet’s most famous fighters, they both agree to a boxing match to determine who gets the honor of fighting Hun’Ya. The only problem for Superman is that he and Ali have to fight on the planet Bodace, which is near the red sun. This in effect diminishes Superman’s powers, thereby making Ali the more complete and compelling fighter when all things are equal. The story features thrills, an action-packed narrative, and surprises. It is not everyday that “The Greatest” faces off in the squared ring against Krypton’s “Man of Steel” with the whole world watching. It was so popular that the comic was later re-released in 2010. It is just another example of Superman’s connection to the sport of boxing.
THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN HITS THE STAGES OF METROPOLIS