Sweet Science aficionado Johnny “Coach” Callas has just about done it all in boxing, ranging from being a collegiate boxing champion, to longtime coach of amateur boxers, World Boxing Council referee, and more. The highlight of his career in boxing, however, came on November 9 when he was inducted into the Connecticut Boxing Hall of Fame (CBHOF).
The Class of 2013 was formerly inducted during the 9TH annual CBHOF Gala Induction dinner at Mohegan Sun. Callas was joined by five other inductees, including: former world title challengers Luigi “Kid Dynamite” Campurato and Israel “Pito” Cardona, broadcaster Al Bernstein, promoter Joe DeGuardia, and USA Boxing administrator Roland Roy.
“I’m humbled and honored to be part of this class,” said Callas. “To go in with International Boxing Hall of Famer Al Bernstein, one of my all-time favorite announcers and all of the other inductees is incredible. This is extra special for me because I’m being inducted with one of my boxers, Israel Cardona, who is a graduate our boxing academy (Callas founded Charter Oak Boxing Academy). He had a solid professional boxing career and is now doing a phenomenal job coaching the Hartford Police amateur boxing program.
Callas has worked the past 24 years for the State of Connecticut’s Department of Children & Family, today serving as a program manager who also operates a hotline for children protective services.
“I’m leaving a legacy for my family; my children and grand-children can always say that I’m in the Connecticut Boxing Hall of Famem,” said Callas. “It’s hard to find words to properly describe how I feel about this. I know it is something that will endure long past my time. It means I accomplished something of value in a sport I’m so passionate about.”
The Hartford native has refereed nearly 150 pro fights, including 12 world championships from around the world, many of which aired on HBO, Showtime and ESPN. He has been the third man in the ring for fights involving the first woman inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, Lucia Ryker, as well as fellow CBHOF inductees John “Iceman” Scully and “Irish” Micky Ward, and world champions Juan Manuel Lopez and Miquel Cotto. Callas was USA Boxing Connecticut Junior Olympic chairman for 15 years, in addition to being a NCBC national college champion and three-time All-America boxer at Central Connecticut State University in the mid-eighties. Johnny also founded the aforementioned Charter Oak Boxing Academy, where he is happily and proudly remains as executive director and head coach.
“If I had to pick only one thing I did in boxing, there’s no question that is would be as a boxer, especially being brought up by CBHOF inductee Billy Taylor. He was known as the ‘Coach of Coaches’ on the collegiate circuit,” said Callas. “That’s where it all started for me and if I hadn’t been a boxer, I wouldn’t be a coach today. I always wanted to grow-up and give back to boxers because of what this sport can do for kids. I love it.”