Kayo boxing cards answer opening bell


Kayo Cards' inaugural 250-card boxing set hit the stores this month.

The East Rutherford, N.J., company is pulling its subjects from past and present and its card concept from the manufacturers of team sport cards. And it has plans that go beyond the boxing ring.

Boxing fans will find legends such as Willie Pep, Jack Johnson, Barney Ross and Jack Dempsey and active fighters such as Donovan "Razor" Ruddock, George Foreman and Riddick Bowe. There are promoters, writers and trainers, too.

Sugar Ray Leonard, who rates two cards, is the only Marylander in the set.

And there's a TV tie-in. Kayo has an agreement with TVKO, the pay-per-view division of Time Warner Sports. Kayo is a sponsor of TVKO's first four fights and produced two special promotional cards for the first fight, Evander Holyfield's and Foreman's "Battle of the Ages," to be randomly inserted in packs. Players International Ltd. of Charlotte, N.C., which represents Holyfield, had sought a preliminary injunction to prevent Kayo from distributing the cards. U.S. District Judge John W. Bissell in Newark, N.J., denied the motion earlier this month.

Six months from now, Kayo plans to issue a 100-card update set, something more typical of baseball, football and hockey cards. New champions will be recognized, records revised and newcomers shown. Kayo president Eric Gitter likes to refer to the latter as boxing rookie cards. After the update set appears, there will be 350-card factory sets available.

Kayo plans to repeat the cycle next year with a new 250-card set, followed by an end-of-year update set. Marylanders can hope to see cards for lightweight champ and Hall of Famer Joe Gans, bantamweight and featherweight champion Harry Jeffra and Arthur Donovan, referee of many heavyweight titles and father of former Baltimore Colts lineman and football Hall of Famer Artie Donovan.

Although the company's name and logo (a kangaroo in boxing trunks and gloves) tie it firmly to boxing, Kayo is moving into other sports.

By the end of the year, Kayo hopes to produce a Major Indoor Lacrosse League set, tentatively planned for 200 to 250 cards. Lacrosse cards will be sold in packs, with no plans at present for a factory set.

It has become the official card of the National Skateboarding Association through 1994 and will produce a 250-card set by year's end. The cards will depict safety tips, current skateboarding circuit stars and historical moments.


Mark Smith of Crofton Sports Collectibles reports that Arundel High graduate Denny Neagle, a pitcher with the Minnesota Twins' Class AAA Portland Beavers, appears on two cards this year: Fleer Ultra and Leaf Series II. Last year, he appeared on a Procards pre-rookie card and a Cal League card. . . . The second set of all-time Baltimore Orioles cards is available at area Crown stations. . . . Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle, who's been selling off old uniforms and other collectibles from his illustrious career, will be hawking limited-edition watches -- 536 18-karat gold timepieces, for each of his career home runs. However, only 535 will be for sale. He's keeping No. 7. . . . The Denny's restaurant chain is giving away hologram baseball cards with the purchase of certain meals. In the set of 26, Cal Ripken represents the Orioles.


Mantle still is magic. A jersey the Hall of Famer wore in 1967 sold for $71,500 at an auction Wednesday. The jersey was autographed by Mantle and was auctioned at Lelands in New York. A Mantle bat fetched $8,250 and a cap $6,600. A ball used by Nolan Ryan in his fifth no-hitter, Sept. 26, 1981, sold for $7,150. Other big-ticket items were bats used by Roger Maris ($8,800) and Ted Williams ($6,600) and a jersey worn by Brooklyn Dodgers star Pee Wee Reese ($4,400). According to Lelands spokesman Michael Puzzo, all prices include a 10 percent house commission, and the auction took in approximately $575,920. . . . Cracker Jack's second series of miniature Topps baseball cards is available. The series consists of 36 cards, including Baltimore Orioles Ben McDonald and Gregg Olson. Cards are in specially marked boxes, and the only way to get the whole set may make your dentist happy: You have to buy lots of boxes. . . . Christian Early, 12, of Crownsville has won a complete set of 1962 Topps baseball cards in a drawing as part of Topps' 40th anniversary sweepstakes. The most valuable single card won so far is a 1968 Mets rookies, valued by Topps at $1,400.



Upcoming events:

Saturday baseball card show, Days Hotel, Timonium, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., 866-3366.

Sunday baseball card show, Towson Quality Inn, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Aug. 17, baseball card show, Econolodge, 5801 Baltimore National Pike, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., 866-3366.

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