September 22nd, 2022 - With the International Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame Class of 2022 Induction Weekend now in the books and we’ve had some time to recover, we would like to take a moment to thank everyone who made the weekend a huge success!
The weekend started with IPWHF President Seth Turner and Honorary Trustee/WWE Hall of Famer Bushwhacker Luke, along with WWE Hall of Famers Booker T and “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase officially opening the doors to the IPWHF Museum at the MVP Arena in Downtown Albany.
Immediatley following the private tour for our guests of honor was the official ribbon cutting for the museum which was attended by over one hundred members of the community.
The museum boasts many of pro wrestling’s cherished possessions. Everything from Edge’s “Money in the Bank” briefcase used at “Unforgiven” in 2006 (which took place in the MVP Arena); Bruno Sammartino’s treasured WWWF Championship belt, and an item which left the audience at the IPWHF Ceremony literally speechless... a photo and autograph by the legendary Ed “Strangler” Lewis.
The highlight of the weekend came on Saturday night when 13 legends took their rightful place in history as they were enshrined in “The Hall”:
Fred Beell, Jim Londos, Tom Jenkins, Alex Aberg, Tom Cannon, Joe Stecher, Karl Gotch, Billy Robinson, Riki Choshu, Genichiro Tenryu, the first female inductee Mildred Burke and two legendary Texans Dory Funk Jr. and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin all joined the list of greats to join the IPWHF.
It wasn’t all about the in-ring heroes that made the weekend so special. “The Hall” recognizes two individuals who make a difference outside the ring with our “Excelsior Award” and the “Rocky Johnson Medal of Mettle” award.
The Excelsior Award is presented to an individual whose impact transcends the wrestling ring. Last year, the IPWHF bestowed the first ever Excelsior Award to the late, great comedian Andy Kaufman. It was Andy’s legendary rivalry with Jerry “The King” Lawler that helped propel professional wrestling into mainstream pop culture.
This year, exoneree Anthony DiPippo was recognized as the IPWHF Excelsior Award recipient for his work with “Wrestling for Innocence”. The “Wrestling for Innocence” project brings awareness to those wrongfully incarcerated through professional wrestling.
DiPippo was found not guilty of a grisly crime after several inconsistencies with his original case prompted a re-trial. DiPippo uses professional wrestling as a mechanism for awareness on how incidents such as his can directly effect lives of, not just the exoneree, but their families and loved ones.
A truly inspirational story, only met with another truly inspirational story. The IPWHF “Rocky Johnson Medal of Mettle” award is presented annually to a special young man or lady who doesn’t allow their limitations determine their path in life.
This year, Azaliah Farkas of New Jersey was selected as the recipient and with her track
record, we can see why. Azaliah was born with several health issues limiting her abilities such as motor skills, speech and hearing, but that hasn’t stopped her from being a force in her local community.
Azaliah has been the catalyst for many charity and awareness events in her hometown in New Jersey using sports to show that those with Special Needs don’t let their limitations define who they are. She’s also a much beloved member of the independent wrestling community in New Jersey; a fixture at many wrestling shows sitting ringside in her signature referee shirt; and right on brand, she wore a black and white striped dress to the ceremony.
At the end of the day, or in this case weekend, the IPWHF not only honors those who impact wrestling inside the ring but shows that wrestling is a community. A community of talent and fans. A community that keeps this great industry alive. Next stop? Class of 2023.
The International Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame is a registered 501-c(3) nonprofit and chartered by the NYS Dept. of Education as an educational museum. The IPWHF is an all-volunteer run organization and relies on grassroots donations from members of the community to help maintain the physical museum at the MVP Arena.