Ninety-two year old craftsman, Ardash Sahaghian, has enjoyed the limelight this past month for his contributions to the city of Union City. As the originator of the modern boxing belt, Sahaghian’s work elevated not only the culture of boxing, but also the cities where these iconic symbols were created -- Weehawken and Union City.
On 23 May 2014, Union City Mayor Brian Stack issued a proclamation honoring Ardash and his wife, Nazeli Sahaghian. The proclamation was presented at the Armenian Flag Raising ceremony at International Park, days shy of Armenian Independence Day. Overseen by Union City Commissioners Lucio Fernandez and Tilo Rivas, as well as prominent local members of the Armenian clergy, the flag raising was a special ceremony for the family.
“Our Armenian heritage is an integral part of our identity, and my grandparents are very proud of their cultural roots,” commented Edward S. Majian, their grandson and President of SARTONK. The proclamation reads, in part, "Ardash Sahaghian’s successes serve as an inspiration to the Armenian people ... Ardash was recruited to modernize the classic championship boxing belts. He used his artistry to create three-dimensional sculptural pieces that ultimately became industry icons.”
Three weeks after that historic day, on 14 June 2014, Sahaghian was honored at the Union City Annual Artists Awards. Organized by the administration, this red carpet gala celebrated the artists who have enriched Union City -- whether through photography, music, dance, painting, writing, or design.
Since its founding, Union City has prospered due, in large part, to its immigrants, many of whom were artists and craftspeople. Starting in the 1960s, the Sahaghians added their artistic experience to this culturally diverse landscape. While Ardash designed and crafted the iconic boxing belts, Nazeli’s careful finesse was invaluable to developing the methods of enameling those sculptural pieces.
“We’re very honored for these celebrations of our contributions. Our lives are testament to what hard work can achieve, despite the number of times we had to cross oceans and settle in new lands,” intimated Ardash. In accepting his award, he said: “I am thankful that the boxing and local public haven’t overlooked the love I put into my work, and I'm proud that the seeds I planted so long ago are still blossoming. Thank you."
SARTONK would like to thank Union City Mayor Brian Stack, the Commissioners, and all those responsible for celebrating the cultural fabric of the city, and honoring Ardash Sahaghian.
For Ardash Sahaghian’s complete speech at the Artists Awards or for press inquiries, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the photo gallery of the Flag Raising Ceremony, click here.
For the photo gallery of the Union City Artists Awards, click here.