By Barry Druxman, referee and judge for the State of Washington
The State of Washington holds about 15 professional boxing cards per year. Most of the cards are held at Native Indian gambling casinos and are not large shows.
The Department of Licensing and not a commission run boxing, in Washington State, per se. The Director is appointed by State officials to run a program that comprises only part of their job. The Director has two experienced and knowledgeable assistants that select officials and approve fight cards. The Director also acts as the media spokesperson at each event.
Washington State currently has only two casinos holding shows with any regularity. The promoters sometimes put pressure on the Department of Licensing employees as to exactly which boxing officials and doctors to use. The last time our State stood up to a casino (the Legends in Yakima), they fired the State and now put on their own shows using some non-licensed officials. Unfortunately, Indian lands have that right and as a result, the boxers can be less protected.
Likewise, the budget is not there to always be able do the “right thing” by having enough officials at each fight. We have three judges, two referees, one timekeeper (who is also counting at the knock down), recent increase to two doctors, and one supervisor per fight. When we only had one doctor at a show, our post fight physicals were given after the fight card ended. The fighters in the first bout often spend hours waiting to see the doctor after they are done fighting. The shows do not have a budget to hire inspectors, so the referees are responsible for hand wraps, gloving the fighters, checking the corners between rounds and giving pre fight instructions.
Until recently, our State forbade “unassigned” officials to attend shows unless they bought a ticket and came as a spectator. We have recently changed that policy. Now ALL officials are welcome and encouraged to attend, provided they are prepared to work for free. There is never a “guarantee” that we’ll have sufficient help at each fight, but we have a number of dedicated and loyal officials happy to fill these unassigned inspector duties when they show up. It is also beneficial in case an emergency arises with an assigned official since fights are budgeted for minimal coverage.
Another problem we faced in the past was that ANYONE who applied for a license in Washington State as a judge or a referee was granted one. As a result, IPRO was created (International Professional Ring Officials). With the help of IPRO, we sponsored passage of a law requiring that all officials receive annual training from a group such as the WBC, WBA, IBF, ABC or IPRO to qualify for certification by the State of Washington.
In summary, there are many issues faced by states with small boxing commissions hosting fights:
1) Fight cards often have inexperienced or less experienced state officials that have had little or no training in boxing.
2) There frequently exists less familiarity with existing laws.
3) These administrative personnel have duties other than boxing competing for their time and resources.
4) These commissions suffer budgetary constraints forcing minimal official coverage at each fight.
5) These commissions can be swayed by special assignment requests from promoters and do not have an objective means by which to license boxing officials and ensure their expertise
6) These fights often take place on Indian lands where they are not obligated to follow requirements (especially medical) as listed by the Association of Boxing Commissions.
The current Director and Assistants are working to improve our conditions as well as follow some of the models provided by states with larger commissions. This can only result in better matches and safer conditions for each and every fighter that competes in the State of Washington.
IPRO is a not-for-profit organization originating in Washington State established to standardize boxing official training. Boxing officials should be trained in the same manner as those provided by the NBA, NFL, and Major League Baseball. We are trying to mitigate some of the aforementioned issues by working with State officials here and around the world, to provide high quality training, address ring officials’ concerns, and provide an informative newsletter. The annual dues are $36, which includes a Training Camp, newsletters, membership card, and IPRO patch. This year the camp will be held in Seattle on August 17th. The scheduled trainers are Marc Ratner, Joe Cortez, Tom Kaczmarek, Dr. Margaret Goodman, and Dr. Flip Homansky. For additional information or to join, contact IPROwebtv.net.
Barry Druxman is a licensed referee and judge for the State of Washington. He began as a boxing judge in Washington State in 1970. He is President of IPRO and President of Global Gemological Laboratories in New York and Washington.
Mr. Barry Druxman has been a resident of the State of Washington his entire life. He has been President and Owner of Global Laboratories for 9 years. He began as a boxing judge in Washington State in 1970 and has also worked extensively as a referee. Although he is a boxing official for the State of Washington Department of Licensing, all of the views, opinions, and/or recommendations contained herein are solely his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Licensing. All readers are strongly cautioned that the information contained herein is not intended to, and never should, substitute for the necessity of seeking the advice of a qualified medical, legal, or financial professional whenever a boxer or his/her representatives have specific questions regarding the best course of action that a boxer should take. Furthermore, since it is possible that general information herein may pertain only to a law, regulation, rule or acceptable standard of practice for a particular jurisdiction, a boxer or his/her representatives must always inquire with the appropriate licensing jurisdiction to determine the applicable laws, regulations, rules, and acceptable standards of practice for each jurisdiction.
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