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20 NOVEMBER 2018


The Professional Boxing Referee: Evaluating the Professional Boxing Referee: Part Two

By: Armando Garcia

Olympic Boxing has an interesting system of selecting their AIBA officials. After meeting certain experience related criteria, AIBA candidates undergo an examination and selection process that consists of four blocks: Written, Oral, Referee and Judge. For the purposes of professional boxing, the portion of the examination related to referee performance is an interesting start to the development of a referee evaluation process for professional boxing. This will be our focus.

In the Olympic Boxing process there is a sheet that details specific areas of referee expertise. The referee is graded in each of these areas and he subsequently receives a score for the particular bout. When modified to professional boxing rules and norms a similar system can be developed where the referee will receive a grade for each high profile event. Every quarter the referee would receive a composite score. That is, the average grades in those bouts in which he performed during the quarter.

I believe that the composite score is important as it can identify issues early on as opposed to waiting for the annual rating. The annual rating serves as the determining factor as to the annual ranking of the referee.

The described process does not address the development of rookie referees. It is geared to establishing a process of evaluating the performance of referees who are already at the championship level and those that are just a notch below.

The process of developing rookie referees is more complex. This will require the establishment of an institution geared solely to the introduction and initial certification of a new referee. This topic will be the focus of a future article.


This guide will assist the designated Commission evaluators in constructively and fairly evaluating their Referees. An evaluation will be completed for all bouts selected by the Commission for review. In turn, the Referee will receive an Overall Grade for each of these bouts.

Quarterly, all evaluations will be reviewed and the Referee will receive his Quarterly Score. The Executive Director and or his designee will review all Quarterly Scores. Quarterly Scores, general conduct and commentary will be considered to reach an Annual Evaluation Score.

Over a period of time, the Referee’s performance will be documented properly so as to assure a fair assessment of his ability.

Time will validate this system. By having a permanent record of their Referees’ performances, the Commissions will have the ability to fairly assess their competency.

Continued improvement and or maintenance of a high level of ability are the goals.

All Referee Annual Evaluation Scores will be submitted to the Association of Boxing Commissions. They may also be made available to other entities by written request to the Referee’s Commission.


The Referee Evaluation consists of four (4) grade categories that will be assigned to eleven (11) areas of expertise. Each area is graded 0 - 10 points with a maximum Overall Grade of 110 points.

The four grade categories are:





The numerical grading range for each category and for both the areas of expertise and the Overall Grade are as follows:


Unsatisfactory: 0 - 5

Marginal: 6 - 7

Exceptional: 8 - 9

Excellent: 10


Unsatisfactory: 0 - 65

Marginal: 66 - 87

Exceptional: 88 - 99

Excellent: 100 - 110

Referees should strive for Exceptional and Excellent scores. That is, to receive scores of 8 -10 points in each area of expertise and 88 -110 points as an Overall Grade.


This system will identify both strong and weak points in a Referee’s ability.

Consequently, this grading system leaves one with the possibility of a Referee scoring very well in some areas, yet lower on others. This is not unacceptable per se, unless the low scores are reflected in the areas of Regard for Safety/Judgment, Knowledge of Rules and or Performance in Adverse Situations. In these sections anything less than Exceptional may jeopardize the Referee’s status at his annual review.

Referees who receive MARGINAL scores will be strongly encouraged to raise their abilities in those areas.

The goal of this system is to assist Referees in developing and maintaining their skills so that all of them may be assigned to any Commission sanctioned bout with confidence.



Section -0 - 5

Overall - 0 - 65

This is the lowest score given. To receive this score in a particular area means that the Referee clearly erred in his performance. Continued UNSATISFACTORY grades will not be permitted.

A Referee who receives this as a Quarterly or Annual Evaluation Score may be removed from his position and not granted a Referee License.


Section - 6 - 7

Overall - 66 - 87

To receive this score in a particular area means that the Referee may have satisfied the section’s basic requirements, yet did not do so enough to distinguish himself and or overall, erred in his performance.

Referees, who receive this as an Annual Evaluation Score or on more than two Quarterly Scores in a twelve-month period, may not be assigned to work selected high profile, world or regional championship bouts.


Section - 8 - 9

Overall - 88 - 99

We strive for excellence. However, to be graded consistently in this manner means that the caliber of the Referee is very high.

Receiving this score in a particular area means that the Referee surpassed an average performance. This score demonstrates a quality job with little or no deficiencies.

Referees who receive this as a Quarterly Score or Annual Evaluation Score may be assigned to work any Commission sanctioned bout.

Referees who receive this as an Annual Evaluation Score may be recommended to other country or state commissions as a candidate for sanctioned events in their area.


Section - 10

Overall - 100 - 110

Although a perfect score may not exist, consistent Excellent scores in combination with Exceptional scores in specific areas and evaluations demonstrate that the Referee is a top quality professional.

To receive this score in a specific area means that the Referee mastered the area’s requirements for the bout.

Referees who receive this as their Annual Evaluation Score may be assigned to work any Commission sanctioned bout. These Referees will be highly recommended to other country or state commissions as a candidate for sanctioned events in their area.

Performances, as well as general conduct in sanctioned bouts, are key guides that will be used for assigning Referees, but these are not all inclusive.

Overall, the decision to assign or not to assign a Referee to a particular bout is made at the sole discretion of the Commission representative after considering many factors that include past performance and conduct. These decisions are not subject to appeal.

The following is a review of the various areas of expertise and the key points of observation that the Referees will be evaluated on:

SECTION ONE - Pre Bout Procedures

Did the Referee give the dressing room instructions correctly?

Did he check the Ring? Did he address deficiencies if any were found?

Did he coordinate all pertinent procedures with the Commission Table, Supervisor, Judges, Ringside Physician(s), Timekeeper, Knockdown Judge and Inspectors?

Did he check the boxers’ gloves and equipment?

Did he bring unnecessary attention to himself?

SECTION TWO - Regard for Safety/Judgment

This is the crucial aspect of Refereeing. Disregard for safety and poor judgment is intolerable.

Were there any instances concerning safety during the bout that deemed immediate attention? Were they immediately addressed?

Was any participant subjected to undue punishment or injury? If so, could the Referee have taken any action to minimize or prevent it?

If the bout ended in a KO or TKO, did the Referee correctly stop the bout? Too late? Too soon?

Should the bout have been stopped and was not?

Was the referee’s overall performance conducive to safety?

SECTION THREE - Knowledge of Rules

The Application and Consistency of the rules is of the utmost importance if we are to ensure safety and fair play. Knowledge of the Rules and good judgment are the primary keys to success.

Was the Referee alert to any violation of the rules?

Was the Referee fair in applying the rules? Did any participant receive an unfair advantage over his opponent because of an improper action on the part of the Referee?

If a knockdown occurred, did the Referee follow the proper procedure to give the count? Proper positioning for the count? Clear count with good hand signals? Good coordination with the Knockdown Judge?

If a knockdown(s) occurred, was it called properly? Any missed knockdowns? Any slips called as knockdowns?

If the bout ended in a KO or a TKO, did the Referee correctly stop the bout? Too early?

Was there any indecision or hesitation in enforcing the rules?

Were the commands given clear and concise?

Did the Referee appear to have a good working knowledge of the rules?

Were there any critical instances during the bout that were not addressed?

Was fouling properly admonished?

Were there any instances where points should have clearly been deducted and were not?

Were point(s) deducted incorrectly?

Was the Referee alert and attentive for any rules violations or any improper procedure during the one-minute rest period?

SECTION FOUR – Performance in Adverse Situations

In this section the Referee’s performance regarding any out of the ordinary or dramatic event will be evaluated. For example:

If any serious situations such as late hits, head butts, low blows or other harmful fouls occurred, were they properly addressed? If so, was the Referee’s action(s) clear, decisive and fair?

If the bout ended in disqualification, were the Referee’s actions leading up to the disqualification and the disqualification itself consistent with the rules, fair play and good judgment?

Were there any temporary stops of action? Were they handled properly?

Did the bout end due to a decision made by the Referee? If so, was the decision a correct one?

Was the Referee’s demeanor conducive to professionalism or did he appear insecure?

SECTION FIVE – Ring Presence

The perception of the public although at times not accurate, plays an important role in the continued acceptance and development of the sport. It is incumbent on the Referee to present himself in a professional manner in the areas of:

Personal Appearance

Was the Referee dressed in accordance with the rules?

Was the Referee’s clothing tapered and neatly pressed? Shoes polished? Belt (if any) in good shape?

Was the Referee’s overall appearance consistent with good hygiene and professionalism? Clean-shaven? Hair cut?

Does the Referee appear to be in poor physical condition? Is he well over a normal weight for his height and bone structure?

Bout Control

Did the Referee exercise his authority and demonstrate the ability and confidence to do so?

If the bout was difficult and the boxers became unruly, did the Referee take steps to ensure safety and that the bout would not remain out of control?

Basically, was the Referee in control of the bout?


Was the Referee in good position throughout the bout?

Was the Referee out of position often? If so, did it occur in a critical moment?

If one of the boxers was a southpaw was the Referee in good position throughout the bout?

Was there any infringement of the rules not seen by the Referee because he was too often out of position? Too close? Too far?

Did the Referee’s positioning interfere with the normal flow of the bout?

Was the Referee’s gaze square to the boxers? Was he looking over his shoulders too often? Did he turn his back on the boxer(s)?


Did the Referee’s movements cause undue attention to himself?

Were the Referee’s movements complimentary to the boxers’? Was his movement fluid? Was it unobtrusive or did it interfere with the normal flow of the bout?

Did he move in between the boxers?

Did the Referee overly bend, crouch, hold on or bounce off the ropes? Any clapping? Eccentric hand, arm or body movement?

SECTION SIX - Commands


If the Referee called out or signaled any commands, were they loud and precise? Were they correct? Necessary? Clear? Understood by the boxer(s)?

If a deduction of points occurred, was it clear to the Judges?

Did the Referee overly demonstrate emotion while giving his commands?


Were the Referee’s overall commands distinct and without hesitation?

Were there any signs of self-doubt?

SECTION SEVEN - Post Bout Procedures

Did the Referee cause any unnecessary attention to himself while awaiting the official decision?

Did the Referee attend to a TKO’d or KO’d boxer properly?

Did the Referee raise the hand of the winner at the correct moment?

Did the Referee demonstrate any favoritism to a boxer?

Did the Referee leave the ring before the boxers? Particularly if the bout ended in a KO or TKO?


This is an important consideration. It is clear that in bouts where boxers are well conditioned, have knowledge of the rules and generally obey the Referee’s commands, all goes relatively smoothly. In these bouts most Referees look very good.

It is in those bouts where the opposite occurs that a Referee may be challenged. Therefore, noting this is important to the overall evaluation of the Referee’s performance.


In this section the Evaluator should give a brief overall synopsis of the Referee’s performance while weighing the ease or difficulty of working the particular bout. Both strong and weak points seen should be documented. This should be a fair constructive assessment of the performance.


The comments in this section should also be brief and to the point. They should be constructive and fair so as to motivate the Referee in continuing to develop their ability by correcting poor habits and eliminating improper procedures. If criticism is deserved, note it. Again, do so constructively and fairly.

Remember, the goal of this system is to develop the skills of all current Referees and to set acceptable standards for potential candidates.

To review the suggested form to be used for the referee evaluation please contact me at

In our next article we will be reviewing actual evaluations and discussing the process further. The series will conclude with final recommendations and commentary.

What do you think boxing friends?



Armando Garcia is presently licensed as a Referee by the Florida State Boxing Commission, the Miccosukee Athletic Commission and the World Boxing Association (WBA). He is a former International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) Referee/Judge for the USA.

He has been involved in boxing for over 15 years and has refereed 21 world championship fights and judged 8 others since 1994. He regularly conducts international seminars for the WBA and has done so in the USA, Thailand, Spain, Nicaragua and Venezuela. He was recently selected as the WBA International Official of the Year.

He was born in Cuba and immigrated to the United States in 1959.

He presently serves as Facilities Director for Perry Ellis International, a leader in the apparel industry, in Miami, Florida. He is also a former veteran police Detective in the South Florida area.



The ”The Professional Boxing Referee” columns are prepared by Armando Garcia in an effort to establish a criterion for dealing with numerous referee situations and as an attempt to interpret professional boxing rules in a simple manner. In the series he will also be discussing various important issues related to professional boxing.

Although he has a vast boxing resume, the views, opinions, and/or recommendations contained in this series of articles reflect his own interpretation of referee rules and procedures and not necessarily those of the entities that license him.

Furthermore, since it is possible that general information herein may pertain only to a law, regulation, rule or MARGINAL standard of practice for a particular jurisdiction, a referee, boxer or his/her representatives must always inquire with the appropriate licensing jurisdiction to determine the applicable laws, regulations, rules, and MARGINAL standards of practice for each jurisdiction.

All readers are advised that the information herein is intended solely as a general reference source, and to the fullest extent permitted by law, the information is provided “AS IS” without any warranties of any kind, whether expressed or implied, including without limitation, warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose and non-infringement. No one may rely on the accuracy, integrity, quality or completeness of the general information herein. Accordingly, neither the author nor anyone else affiliated with any website or press entity may be held liable for damages of any kind whatsoever allegedly caused or resulting from any such claimed reliance.

If anyone has any questions about this Disclaimer, Waiver of Rights and Indemnity, or any article, he or she should contact Armando Garcia at:

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