NEW YORK, Aug. 30 -- The National Black Sports and Entertainment Hall of Fame inducted its first 24 members, half from sports and half from entertainment, at a ceremony Wednesday night in Harlem, N.Y.
"Harlem is the home of some of the greatest sports and entertainment legends in history," said Lloyd Williams, the head of the Harlem Chamber of Commerce, one of the organizers of the event. "This year we are extremely pleased to be launching the National Black Sports and Entertainment Hall of Fame as part of Harlem Week 2001."
Among the athletes inducted were: three-time world heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali, trumpeter Louis Armstrong, tennis great Arthur Ashe who was an activist for civil rights and AIDS, basketball player Wilt Chamberlain, Cuban baseball sports agent Joe Cuba, tennis player Althea Gibson who was the first black to win Wimbledon and Johnny Isaacs, a member of the first salaried full-time professional black basketball team.
Also inducted were: winner of six Olympic medals, Jackie Joyner-Kersee; Earl "The Pearl" Monroe, Hall of Fame player for the New York Knicks; the first black to play major league baseball, Jackie Robinson; Sugar Ray Robinson who was the first boxer to win five titles and Wilma Rudolph, a track and field athlete who won three gold medals in the 1960 Olympics.
"Not all those inducted are African American," said Williams. "Also, inducted are singers Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra who supported civil rights as well as sports cartoonist for the New York Daily News Bill Gallo."
Those inducted from entertainment were: the first black woman nominated for an Academy Award as best actress, Dorothy Dandridge; jazz musician Duke Ellington, jazz vocalist Ella Fitzgerald; jazz vibraphonist Lionel Hampton who was among first black musicians to appear on CBS's "The Ed Sullivan Show;" New York City disc jockey Hal Jackson; jazz vocalist Gloria Lynne; rock and roll singer Lloyd Price; Grammy-winning Latin musician Tito Puente and pop singer Dionne Warwick.
The gala was held at the Aaron Davis Hall at City University of New York in Harlem.
There is no building to house the National Black Sports and Entertainment Hall of Fame but Williams and other organizers including Republican New York Gov. George Pataki and Rep. Charles Rangel, a Democrat from Harlem, plan to raise funds to build a museum that they believe will attract tourists. A walk of fame along 135th St. is also planned.