FLINT, MI – On the second day of Black History Month, a gang of local residents huddled to witness the announcement of the 2016 inductees for the Greater Flint Afro-American Sports Hall of Fame.
Another group of Flint’s rich athletic history was recognized in the lower level meeting room of the Flint Public Library on Tuesday night.
The Class of 2016 includes: former heavyweight boxing champion Chris Byrd, Carlos Benton (football, track, coaching), Terrence “Terry” Edwards (football, basketball, and baseball), Ron Peaks (basketball), Terry Thames (football, wrestling and track), basketball great Paulette (Backstrom) Wallace, Eddie Watkins (track and field) and the Bud Lite U.S. Flag Football national championship teams of 1986-88.
“This year’s group is really diverse,” said hall of fame president Michael Harris. “We’ve got some great inductees.”
Byrd was one of the few that couldn’t attend the 32nd annual announcement reception, but his father and legendary trainer Joe Byrd spoke on his behalf. The official induction ceremony and dinner won’t happen until Sunday, March 20 at the Riverfront Banquet center in downtown Flint.
“My baby boy is taking after me (with training) and he has so many boxers so he’s gone all the time,” Joe Byrd told the crowd. “But I told him even if I have to handcuff him that he will be here for the hall of fame dinner. He told me he would.”
Byrd held the WBO and IBF world titles during his professional career. His boxing resume includes victories over past champions such as Evander Holyfield, Vitali Klitschko, and David Tua.
Edwards, 54, is a 1979 Flint Northwestern graduate. He joked about his younger sister, Tonya, entering the hall of fame 10 years prior to his induction in 2006.
“I’m probably the only member that their baby sister went in before them,” Edwards laughed.
He was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the fourth round of the 1983 MLB June Amateur Draft from Central State University.
“I wasn’t expecting anything like this,” Edwards said. “When I went out to play it wasn’t for awards it was basically because I loved doing it.”
Benton also expressed his gratitude for being honored.
He said it, “meant a lot” for him to be included in the ceremony.
Benton was a Flint Central graduate that later starred at Grambling State before coaching track and cross country for many years at Flint Central and Grand Blanc High Schools.
“I never dreamed that I was going to be somewhere like this,” Benton explained. “In my days, we had the community school directors and they made you do everything. It was about going out and having fun.”
For tickets ($35) or for more information on the dinner contact Mancine Broome at (810) 744-2108.
You can also take a virtual tour of the Greater Flint Afro-American Sports Hall of Fame online by visiting: www.fpl.info/hallfame. The hall of fame was founded in 1985 by Norm Bryant.
“The man that we should never forget is Norm Bryant,” Joe Byrd said. “I’m really, really happy to be just a part of the Afro-American Hall of Fame.”