By Tony Lato, Jr., Chief Inspector for the Nevada State Athletic Commission
Inspectors are individuals from all aspects of life. Currently, we have inspectors who are school administrators, educators, life insurance agents, workers at major hotels in Nevada, a collegiate boxing coach, a head custodian, former boxers, business owners, etc. They are individuals who love the sport of boxing, mixed martial arts, and wrestling. Their hard work is designed to make sure that all rules are followed.
Inspectors are usually scheduled to work a month in advance by the chief inspector. The chief inspector handles assignments of all inspectors by e-mail. In southern Nevada, there are currently thirteen inspectors and three trainee inspectors. In northern Nevada, there is one acting chief inspector, Mr. Mike Martino, and four inspectors.
Most events in Nevada have a need of four inspectors, but major events require six inspectors. Unassigned inspectors may attend a venue, but they are required to inform the chief inspector if they plan on attending. Unassigned inspectors will be required to work if they confirm themselves for an event. Trainee inspectors go through a rigorous training program. They are required to attend weigh-ins, press conferences, and events in an effort to learn all the proper techniques and procedures. They do not get monetary pay while going through this process.
A recommendation is made by the chief inspector to the commissioners and the executive director when there is a need for inspectors. Official weigh-ins for matches are usually held the day prior to a scheduled event. One inspector handles the paper work, which includes taking down the color of a fighter’s trunks, proper licensing for the fighters and corner workers, and writing the weights of the combatants on the NSAC bout sheet.
During boxing weigh-ins, the inspector/s check each fighter’s trunk colors to make sure that the trunks are not similar. If boxers have the same color trunks, scoring could be a difficult task for judges. Usually the executive director gives the legal weights. The chief inspector gives the official weights in the absence of the executive director. If the executive director and the chief inspector are not available, an inspector can provide the legal weights.
All inspectors are required to arrive to work at least one and one-half hours prior to an event’s start time. They are to immediately go to the ring and check the tightness of the ropes, check the ring flooring, and check the opposing corners for seats, buckets, and towels. An assignment sheet is distributed to each inspector informing them of the contestants they are assigned.
One hour prior to the first bout, it is mandatory that all inspectors report to the dressing rooms and have the seconds and/or managers wrap the contestants’ hands. Currently, the Nevada State Athletic Commission allows fifteen yards of gauze and six feet of adhesive tape with no tape going directly over the knuckles for each hand. Contestants are to be observed by an inspector when hands are tape. When a contestant prepares to put his gloves on, an inspector is required to check the gloves, observe gloves being placed on the hands, and watch the proper taping of the gloves. All laces on the gloves must be covered with white adhesive tape, and the tape must extend to the top of the gloves. An inspector has to sign off on the hand wraps and gloves, thus making the hand wraps and taping of the gloves legal and approved by a representative of the Commission.
If a contestant is fighting out of the red corner his glove wraps should be signed off in red marker, and if a contestant is scheduled to work out of the blue corner, then his glove wraps are to be signed off in a blue marker. The markings of the gloves in blue or red are designed to help a referee distinguish which combatant goes to which corner during the heat of battle.
Other job responsibilities of inspectors in the dressing rooms prior to matches are to make sure combatants enter the ring with their shoe laces taped (this prevents a match from being delayed if laces became apart), that the combatant is wearing a full abdominal type cup protector, know the individuals who are working the corner of a combatant, and check that a combatant has his/her mouthpiece prior to leaving the dressing room areas.
While working the corner of a match, inspectors are to control the corners. Excessive coaching is not allowed and could result in a fine of an individual if the individual does not abide by an inspector’s instructions. Inspectors are to make sure that only legal cut solutions allowed in Nevada are used between rounds. They are Aventine, Thrombin, and Adrenaline 1/1000. If a mouthpiece falls out of a contestant’s mouth during the action, the referee will get the mouthpiece to one corner person when there is a lull in the action. The corner person is to wash off the mouthpiece and place it back into the fighter’s mouth. The inspector is to observe this procedure and make sure there is no coaching while this action is being done.
If a corner person wants to stop a match because his/her boxer is taking an excessive beating, the inspector is to walk the corner person to the ring apron and get the attention of the referee to stop the fight. Throwing a towel does not designate a stoppage of a match due to the fact that a nearby spectator can throw in a towel into the ring. If a combatant is knocked out, it is the responsibility of the inspector to get a stool in the ring and have a commission doctor check the individual. The inspector is to stay with his assigned combatant until the doctor says the injured individual is fit to be on his own.
After every bout, commission doctors will again check the combatants in the dressing rooms. It is the responsibility of the inspectors to perform the drug tests. Drug tests are always given to combatants of championship fights. If there were no championship fights, random drug tests are usually administered. Again, it is the responsibility of the inspector to collect the urine sample and give it to the chief ringside physician as soon as possible.
On completion of the event, all inspectors meet immediately by the ring with the chief inspector for a brief meeting to discuss the incidents of the night. Notes of the meeting will be posted on the next updated e-mail for those inspectors who did not attend the event. This procedure keeps the entire inspector staff posted of event happenings.
As a former inspector, I was involved in some of the strangest events in boxing history. A most bizarre happening was on the night when Evander Holyfield fought Riddick Bowe at the outside arena of Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, and the infamous fan man flew in as I worked in the corner of Mr. Holyfield. I happened to be sitting next to Emanuel Steward as we both saw the fan man fly in from the opposite corner. We both responded, “What the hell is this?” With a delay in the fight, my responsibilities were to keep Mr. Holyfield covered with a towel and not have any of his corner people work on him.
The other bizarre incident was when Mike Tyson fought Evander Holyfield for the second time at the MGM Grand. This was the incident of the “Bite Fight.” We all remember Mr. Tyson biting off a piece of Mr. Holyfield’s ear. I worked the corner of Iron Mike that evening. The incident became hectic as Mr. Tyson lost control after Referee Mills Lane stopped the fight. At such a close range, I was not able to see what actually happened until I went into the dressing room with Mr. Tyson. It was then that I witnessed the actual event on a replay monitor.
Being a representative with the Nevada State Athletic Commission since 1988, I try to instill in my inspectors to know all the rules and regulations and to be ready for the unique. One never knows what strange occurrence may take place. Predictability is a no-no in the exciting sport of hand-to-hand combat.
Tony Lato, Jr.
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