November 9, 2023, was a special night for Hudson County and the New Jersey boxing community at large. The event was the 53rd Annual New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame Dinner, and among the inductees was North Bergen’s very own Danny “Little Mac” McDermott.
The former WBU World Champ was among fourteen other inductees and five award recipients including famed boxer Zhilei “Big Bang” Zhang, Union City based, manager and coach Joe Botti, sports cartoonist Charlie McGill, and many more. Also in attendance was former boxer and commissioner of the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board Larry Hazzard.
The night was spent at The Venetian, a luxurious and large catering venue, in Garfield, New Jersey. The large hall accommodated a crowd of hundreds looking forward to a panel whose layout was visually reminiscent of the Dean Martin and Friars Club roasts of the seventies and eighties.
Unlike the raunchy nature of those programs, however, this night was filled with endearing moments, supportive crowds, and impassioned speeches. Some of which were brief, while others, not as much. This prompted Henry Hascup, President of the NJHOF, to quip, “At this rate, we’ll have to put in orders for breakfast.”
McDermott is best known for having walked in the footsteps of James J. Braddock, becoming the second boxer from North Bergen to earn the title of world champion. This also earned him another major milestone as the first American to win a world championship in the Philippines.
McDermott also gives back to his hometown in various ways, such as coaching for the North Bergen boxing team, spearheading the creation of a statue in honor of Braddock, and running two gyms, with one focused on getting kids into boxing. It’s safe to say that there’s no place like home for Little Mac.
As the night progressed, Danny was called up to the podium (or ‘lectern’ for you grammar purists). With minimal words, he thanked the room, his family, trainers, and God before returning to his seat, now holding a tangible symbol of how far he has come.
From his early days in the USA Boxing Team to his WBC Silver Title that made him the first world champ from North Bergen in almost ninety years, all of it, his whole career, was sitting in his own hands on that special night. It’s a legacy that will not only be held dear by those in attendance but, most of all, will be the pride of Hudson County for years to come.