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Most major sports have a Hall of Fame to honor legends that have had incredible careers on the field or court. The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio may come to mind. There’s also the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA. WWE has their annual Hall of Fame event the weekend of Wrestlemania. The objective of these Halls of Fame is to give the athlete a moment to reflect and be honored for his or her contributions during their run in their sport of choice.
The International Sports Hall of Fame is a unique version because it recognizes champions and world-class performers and contributors from all sports, including bodybuilding and fitness. They’re also recognized for contributions that have been made by the inductee after their active playing days are over. Among the notable bodybuilding inductees since the beginning of the ISHOF in 2012 are Mr. Olympia winners Arnold Schwarzenegger, Franco Columbu, Lee Haney, Ronnie Coleman, and Jay Cutler, who was inducted in the 2021 class at the Olympia weekend. Other contributors such as Joe and Ben Weider and Arnold Sports Festival co-promoter Jim Lorimer have also been honored. Counting all inductees over the past ten years, less than 100 people have been inducted in the ISHOF.
Dr. Robert Goldman is the founder and chairman for the ISHOF, and he himself is a Hall of Famer in the world or martial arts. Furthermore, he’s set over 20 world records in various physical feats, including setting marks in the handstand pushups (321) and straight leg sit-ups (13,500). He is also a recipient of the Arnold Classic Lifetime Achievement Award. Goldman recognizes that the legends that have been honored deserve such a moment. He also sees it as an opportunity to pay forward to the athletes in the making.
“One thing we need to do is mentor the next generation and give them the input for what proper conduct is not only while you’re competing, but more importantly, when you’re no longer competing,” he said. When Goldman speaks about the inductees, he mentions the acts of charity and goodwill they have done throughout their lives. The ISHOF itself is a charitable endeavor. No money has ever been made from the ceremonies. There has never been advertising, either. This is very important to him as well as the members of the Advisory Board who help choose the class every year. Members such as ISHOF Vice President Fairfax Hackley, Olympia President Dan Solomon, wrestling and boxing great Dan O’Malley, Rob Fletcher of America’s Next Great Trainer, and others take the task of choosing each class seriously based on those standards.
“It’s important how one gives back to society, gives back to their particular sport or activity,” Goldman shared. “How can you inspire that next generation of athletes, not only in their sport, but all sports?”
The Class of 2022 pays homage to combat sports, and fans that follow boxing or mixed martial arts will understand why the members of this year class were chosen. The inductees are listed below:
As with every year, Goldman is excited about the class that will be presented for induction. This year, it’s because he feels a deeper personal connection to those that he will introduce and honor.
“In years’ past, there would be a UFC world champion next to a Mr. Olympia next to a Olympic gold medalist. This year because of my interest in the martial arts and combative sports, I wanted that to be a central theme this year, which we’ve never done before,” Goldman said. 2022 represents the tenth anniversary of the ISHOF, and he felt that this would be the time to induct a group such as this.
“I really felt we need to give this particular class and these sports this kind of focus.”
The 2022 edition of the International Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held at the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, Ohio on Saturday, March 5. The ceremony has been held at the Arnold every year except 2021 when it was moved to the Olympia weekend in Orlando, Florida. The event itself is attended by past and present inductees, VIP’s that are invited to attend, and a select list of media personalities. Goldman feels the select group of attendees and intimacy of the event is what has made it so special for everyone involved.
“When these events happen, there’s a good chance that these groups will never be together again,” Goldman explained. “When Bruno Sammartino was inducted, that was the first time that he, Arnold,
and Franco were in the same room at the same time in 45 years. Unfortunately, Bruno and Franco are no longer here. So, our ceremony has become a historic event in that sense.”
The ISHOF event has become so important for many of the inductees that they return in following years to gather with those that they met before. Hall of Famers such as Ronnie Coleman, powerlifting legend Ed Coan, WWE World Champion Mark Henry, and others have made it a must-attend event when it is held. Schwarzenegger has traditionally joined Goldman to honor each class. Goldman’s initial desire was to find a way to thank the people that are honored because he considered many of them mentors. He never imagined that the ISHOF would have gotten the attention that it has over the last decade, and it will likely continue to grow into the future.
“It’s gone way further than I’d ever expected,” Goldman admitted. “It’s a testament to the great expense and work that goes into making each year so successful. It’s a year-round task to go from beginning to what those in attendance see. It’s been a dynamic evolution.”
For more information about the ISHOF, go to www.sportshof.org