Tony Rini

Induction Year : 2011

Sport: Horse Racing

Tony Rini is arguably the most accomplished jockey ever born in northeastern Ohio. He’s also the most courageous. And to the delight of his friends and acquaintances, he’s probably the funniest.

Rini is the third thoroughbred jockey inducted into the Greater Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame. He joins Danny Weiler, a former rival and one of his best friends, and the late Michael Rowland who rode for Rini when Tony turned to training.

It was a horrific accident during training hours at Oaklawn Park in 1983 that ended Rin’s 24 years in the saddle, a career that saw him win 2,438 races and account for more than $10 million in purse earnings.

The accident left Rini with a broken back and a paralyzed left arm. Doctors, after telling Rini he might never walk again, asked him if he would like to speak with a psychiatrist. They feared he would attempt to kill himself. He cautioned them that if they found him dead in the following moring, that he hadn’t done it.

Rini, born in Cleveland and reared on the near West Side, was introduced to racing at the Berea Fairgrounds where he hauled water buckets until a trainer gave him a leg up on a horse.

He won his first race at Thistledown in 1959 aboard Date Me. It launched him on a path to nine riding titles at Thistledown and Randall Park. He swept all four Thistledown riding championships in 1970 and his 287 winners that year ranked hm fourth in North America.

The outstanding season graduated Rini to the top level of racing at tracks like Churchill Downs, Keeneland and Arlington Park.

Rini participated in two Kentucky Derbys, finishing 19th on Jr.’s Arrowhead in 1971 and ninth aboard Chief Dixieland in 1978. He did win the 1972 Illinois Derby on Fame and Power and returned home to win the 1973 Ohio Derby with Our Native. Rini is now a trainer at Thistledown. Among the riders he uses is his son, Wade Rini.

Billy Reynolds

Induction Year : 1980

Sport: Football

A pro football star with the Cleveland Browns for three years after a notable career at the University of Pittsburgh, he became a prominent high school football and basketball official, officiating state final contests in both sports during a career spanning over 20 years. As president of the Cleveland Touchdown Club he revived a failing organization and made it an important part of the Cleveland sports scene once again. Has also been active in the promotion of the Cleveland Browns Muny Football, Pee Wee and Bantamweight Leagues.

James J. Nance

Induction Year : 1980

Sport: Tennis

A prominent Cleveland business executive with a lifelong interest in athletics, he was instrumental in raising the funds to bring the World Finals of the Davis Cup to Cleveland in 1964.

Joe Raymond

Induction Year : 1980

Sport: Meritorious Service

Served as Athletic Director of the Greater Cleveland Catholic Youth Organization from 1941 to 1972. Under his direction CYO football leagues grew from 19 to 79 member teams. He was instrumental in adding track, cross country, soccer, softball and wrestling to the CYO sports program. More than 4,000 boys played CYO football in his final year as athletic director.

Russ Reynolds

Induction Year : 1980

Sport: Archery

First archer ever to win both the National Field Championship and the National Target Championship. Won the target championship in 1949 and 1951 and the field championship in 1950. At one time held eight of a possible 12 U.S. archery marksmanship records. Represented the United States in the International Championships in Denmark in 1950 and placed third. Was scheduled to represent the U.S.A. in the 1952 championships in Brussels, but succumbed to leukemia before the competition took place.

Ben O'Sickey

Induction Year : 1980

Sport: Speed Skating

First Ohioan elected to the Speed Skating Hall of Fame. Started competitive racing in 1906 at age 13. Set senior men’s indoor record in the half mile in 1916. Turned professional in 1920 and raced professionally until 1940s. Trained numerous young speed skaters after turning pro, best known of whom was Jack Shea, winner of two gold medals in the 1932 Winter Olympics at Lake Placid.

Bill Needham

Induction Year : 1980

Sport: Hockey

Brought up to the Cleveland Barons to bolster the defense for the 1957 playoffs, he remained for 16 seasons. Set an American Hockey League record by playing in 526 consecutive games and captained the Barons for eight years. Was voted the team’s Most Valuable Player four times by his teammates and three times by the fans. In all he played over 1,000 regular season games in a Barons uniform and helped the team to the playoffs 15 times in 16 seasons. In 1966-67 he was picked as the Most Valuable Defenseman in the AHL and was named to the league All-Star first team.

Artie Root

Induction Year : 1980

Sport: Boxing

Built a 40-0 record as an amateur boxer during World War 1, then turned professional, meeting many of the great fighters of his time. Defeated Willie Jackson shortly before Jackson KOed Johnny Dundee. Also defeated English Featherweight champion Joey Fox. In 1920 he met Johnny Kilbane for the featherweight title in a memorable match staged at League Park. With more than 14,000 fans looking on, Root staggered Kilbane in the fourth round, but Kilbane rallied to win a decision. It was Root’s last fight.

Luke Owens

Induction Year : 1980

Sport: Football

An all-city high school football star and state champion in the shotput and discus at Cleveland John Adams High School, and an All-American collegiate football star at Kent State he joined the St. Louis Cardinals of the National Football League in 1957 and enjoyed an outstanding career during which he was named an all-pro defensive tackle on several occasions. He retired in 1967.

Joseph Oros

Induction Year :

Sport: Basketball

Leading scorer in Cleveland high school basketball for three straight seasons at Collinwood High (1932-34) and was a rare three-time all-scholastic selection. Outscored the entire Shaw High team in 1934 contest with a 29-point effort, and duplicated the feat with a 25-point outburst against East Tech. Went on to play with several Class A teams in Greater Cleveland amateur basketball, and led the league in scoring many times.