Ring 8’s membership is now in excess of 300 people, rivaling the numbers of its best years. Meetings are presided over by Ring 8’s current President Bobby Bartels, a 1960’s era welterweight, who reviews current business, tolls the ten count for deceased members, and introduces the guest speaker for the evening. Occasionally there is a surprise as when 1950’s middleweight contender Eugene “Silent” Hairston was introduced and honored, or when Danny “Bang, Bang” Womber, who once beat the great Kid Gavilan, was discovered at a Salvation Army shelter and was brought to Ring 8, given an award, and treated like the celebrity he once was. Just to see the expression of gratitude and happiness on the faces of these forgotten gladiators was worth 10 times the price of admission. Several years ago Ring 8 acted on rumors that ailing former featherweight champion Sandy Saddler was being neglected. The organization placed Sandy in a proper nursing facility where he was able to live out his final years in relative peace. The group did the same for ex-champs Phil Terranova and former heavyweight contender Tami Mauriello.
The biggest Ring 8 event is still the annual Holiday Dinner which takes place in December. Hundreds attend and the event is usually sold out weeks in advance.
The annual dinner is just one of several ongoing attempts to raise funds for the organization. Considering the terrible financial and physical condition that so many ex-fighters find themselves in, Ring 8’s efforts are minuscule compared to what truly needs to be done for these ruined warriors. Again, without a union, pension plan, or health benefits the boxer is at an extreme disadvantage. But at least there is one organization that is trying, with whatever limited resources it has at its disposal, to make a difference. Pity that the real power brokers in boxing which include the major promoters and the few mega-million boxing superstars do not pitch in and help.