Back in 1968, Delbarton native Tommy Diamond Sr. won the U.S. Marine middleweight boxing title. He then hit the ring in an effort to make the U.S. Olympic team.

Diamond was only one bout away from making the U.S team after losing a close decision by one point in the fight that would have sent him to the Mexico City Olympics.

His distinguished career as a boxer for the Marines earned him a spot in the U.S. Marine Corp (USMC) Boxing Hall of Fame (HOF).

Diamond, now 69 and living in Tennessee, was recently inducted in a ceremony held at Camp Lejeune, South Carolina.

"I was real excited about it. It is something I didn't expect," Diamond said. He was inducted on April 14 with about 20 family members present to celebrate the honor with him. This was the 3rd annual event for the HOF.

Diamond said when he joined the Marines back in the late 1960s, after graduating from Burch High School, it was his goal to make the boxing team for the military. He boxed from 1967 to 1969 with the Marine Corps as a middleweight.

The late Ken Norton was also inducted into this year's hall of fame and his widow Rose was there to accept the induction ring on his behalf.

Norton and Tommy Diamond Sr. boxed together on the 1967 All-Marine Boxing Team. Norton competed from 1967 to 1981 in the heavyweight division and held the WBC heavyweight title in 1978.

Diamond was also inducted with former professional boxer Ray Mercer. Mercer was the former WBO heavyweight title holder from 1991 to 1992. As an amateur, he won a gold medal in the heavyweight division at the 1988 Summer Olympics.

"I have some good memories from that time," Diamond said. The former Golden Gloves boxer loves the sport and won a state championship representing Mingo County. He later was elected as the County Clerk for Mingo County and served in that capacity for several years.

"I learned a lot on the Marine team - how to train and pace myself," he added.

Diamond returned to his hometown after his stint in the military and became the Delbarton Golden Gloves coach and local boxing promoter for 40 years. He trained and coached many championship amateur boxers throughout those years.

His son, Tommy Diamond II, who operates a boxing gym in Williamson, said the Diamond clan was very proud of his father.

"It was a great moment for my family," Diamond's son said. "It was an honor watching him get inducted."

His dad received a Hall of Fame ring and a red sports coat as part of his induction. Pride is something that veterans of the USMC have and those who participated on its boxing team have a special camaraderie.

Retired Sgt. Maj. Michael Cline, chairmen of the All-Marine boxing team alumni Hall of Fame, stated, "We have had many people who have gone before us that have been ambassadors of the United States Marine Corps (including) on the world stage, whether it was nationally or internationally."

Kyle Lovern is the editor for the Williamson Daily News. He can be contacted at 304-235-4242, ext. 2277, or on Twitter

@KyleLovern.

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