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Cop was a decent judge Tom Basinski | Sat, May 17 2014 12:00 PM

I have always been interested in boxing. My dad and I used to watch the fights on Gillette’s “Cavalcade of Sports” in the ‘50s. I filled an old duffel bag with rags and hung it in the basement. I would don leather winter mittens and punch away.

When we moved to a house with a garage I hung the bag from the rafters and went at it. As an adult, I bought an Everlast 40-pound heavy bag and some real training gloves. I would box eight three-minute rounds with a minute of rest in between. If you want a workout, that’s the ticket.

I was never in many fights. Maybe it was because I’m such a nice guy. Or, maybe it was because I had confidence that I could defense punches and throw some too. Maybe the street people saw I had “The Eye of the Tiger,” but I doubt it. In reality, I probably had “The eye of the poodle.” I knew the mechanics of balance, footwork, and fighting.
In the mid-90s a friend of mine who is a professional boxing referee knew I was a baseball umpire and wondered if I wanted to be a referee. The California Athletic Commission was having the first ever referee’s academy in Los Angeles.

I understood the basics of sports officiating like knowing the rules, the mechanics, and how to conduct one’s self with players and managers. Being a good sports official is like being a good cop; you are there and ready to spring into action if needed. You are not the game. The athletes are.

The referee academy sounded good so I went up to Los Angeles every other weekend for four months. We were taught rules and mechanics. We were taught the difference between a “knockdown” and a “slipdown,” what the “10-point must system” meant, how to handle a fight where an accidental head butt caused injury, the standing 8-count, and many other things that might come up. Most of our teachers were referees, but we were also addressed by ring doctors, boxing judges, and actual fighters. There were about 29 students hoping to become referees.

At the end of the class I easily passed a written test. We had a “role playing” refereeing scenario in the ring. It was not realistic at all, but the exercise counted for most of our grade. Only eight in the group were certified as referees and I was not one of them. Five of the eight were sons of current professional referees.

I didn’t whine “favoritism” because four of the five sons were great guys who had been exposed to boxing and dinner table boxing conversations all their lives. The four were well qualified. The fifth was a fat blowhard whose father, although a good technical referee, was a blowhard himself.

Those who didn’t make the grade were offered work as ringside judges after a period of internship. Even though I couldn’t be a referee, being a judge sounded good. I attended several boxing cards. We sat at ringside and scored the fight like real judges and handed in our card after each round.

I did this for several months, attending matches in San Diego, Los Angeles, Anaheim, and at several hotels and casinos. For the most part I did very well on my scores. I was certified by the State Athletic Commission as a boxing judge.

After many more months of this, some of the guys were getting work as judges. I never got a call. My friend tried to encourage me. I finally had enough and said they could keep their damned judge job. Besides, I had seen enough backbiting, gossiping, and general political undermining among and between the regular referees that I figured I didn’t belong in the boxing world.

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