The Hickok Belt® Award Newsthe crown jewel of the International sports world
THE STORIES OF THE AWARD
THAT MADE SPORTS HISTORY
The backstory on The Hickok Belt®
The Hickok Belt® Award was conceived as a way to honor Ray and Alan Hickok’s father, Stephen Rae Hickok, an avid sportsman and the entrepreneurial innovator behind the Hickok Manufacturing Company, once the largest and most respected maker of men’s belts and accessories in the world.
The ultimate sports prize, the Hickok Belt® was awarded annually to the top professional athlete of all sports, as voted on by a panel of 300 sportswriters across the country. For one night each year, Rochester, New York was the center of the sports world, as the top names in sports flocked to the gala Hickok Belt® awards banquet.
Efforts to revive the Belt failed, until Tony Liccione, president of the Rochester Boxing Hall of Fame, acquired the Hickok Belt® trademarks and put the wheels in motion to begin a new era for the Crown Jewel of the Sports World. On October 16th 2011, past Hickok winners gathered with some of today’s top stars at a banquet at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York. This event was a celebration of past winners and began the countdown to October 2012, when the first Hickok Belt® winner in 36 years was named!
1950 Phil Rizzuto
Worth $90,000 – $140,000 in today’s dollars, the Belt was a true work of art.
FROM BRAINCHILD TO REALITY
How the ultimate tribute became the ultimate award
Five years after their father, Stephen Rae’s death, Ray and Alan Hickok came up with the idea of honoring his memory in the form of a belt to be awarded to the middleweight boxing champion of the world. The awarding of trophy belts to fighters dated back to mid-nineteenth century England. Given their father’s two passions—sports and belts, the idea made perfect sense. To give this new belt legitimacy, Ray and Alan teamed up with New York City boxing promoter Murray Goodman. In order to keep the belt, which would be designed and manufactured by Hickok, it was decided that the champion would have to successfully defend his title once.
On June 16, 1949, the new belt was presented to Jake LaMotta, who won a brutal fight against Frenchman Marcel Cerdan. But LaMotta was so enamored of the belt that he refused to part with it, despite being reminded that he couldn’t keep it until he made a successful title defense.
Even former heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis couldn’t convince LaMotta to return the belt. As it turned out, the Hickoks’ faced an even bigger problem, a lawsuit threatened by Ring magazine for infringing on their historic rights dating back to the 1920’s to present championship belts in all weight classifications.
Clearly the Hickoks would have to go back to the drawing board for a way to honor their father. Together with Goodman, they decided to create the ultimate sports prize, awarded annually to the top professional athlete in all of sports, chosen by a panel of 300 sportswriters and sportscasters from across the country. And the Hickok Belt® Award was born. The first Hickok Belt® was awarded to Phil Rizzuto at the Rochester Press-Radio Club charity banquet in 1950.
Selecting The Best Of The Best
Voting for the Hickok Belt® Award is conducted by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.
Each month, members of the NSMA will select one individual to be recognized as the Hickok Belt® Award Winner of the Month. On an annual basis, the NSMA will select an overall Hickok Belt® Award winner from the 12 monthly candidates. Winners will be selected based on the athlete (male or female) who has demonstrated the highest level of personal athletic achievement and represents the “Best of the Best” across all professional sports.
The Current Buzz on Sports’ Greatest Award
Your single source for Hickok Belt® Award News — The 2011 Hickok Belt® Banquet kicks off a year of voting for monthly winners leading up to the awarding of the first Hickok Belt® in 37 years, in 2012. Check out stories on past winners in the news today, on the continued efforts of Hickok Belt® sponsors and of course on upcoming events and announcements.
2011 Comeback Dinner
Missed the October 16, 2011 Comeback Dinner at St. John Fisher College? Check out photos from this special event that marked the official return of the Hickok Belt® Award.
Hickok Belt Award Past Winners, Boxing legend Carmen Basilio (1957) and Yankee pitching great “Bullet” Bob Turley (1958)
Joey Brucato sings the National Anthem and “Thank you Solider” to pay respect to the American troops overseas.
A Hickok Belt Award video was played to showcase past winners like Mickey Mantle and the history of the award.
Holly Lang vividly recalls the Hickok Belt Award galas in Rochester and the family dinners with the athletes.
Carmen Basilio and George Chuvalo represented the boxing world at the Oct 6 Comeback Dinner at St. John Fisher College
The great “Bullet” Bob Turley shares memories of the Hickok Belt from 1958 and stories from the New York Yankees.
VIP Guests from back left: Meadowlark Lemon, George Chuvalo, Holly Lang, Johnny Antonelli. Front row (left to right), Bob Turley and Carmen Basilio.
Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks spoke about the importance of the Hickok Belt Awards rich Rochester tradition and exciting future.
Ceremonies from 1950-1976
Click through the photo gallery below to relive past Hickok Belt® Award ceremonies.