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18 NOVEMBER 2018


THE PROFESSIONAL BOXING REFEREE: Referee training methods in modern day boxing

By Armando Garcia

Yes, there is such a thing as referee training. What hurts us, though, is that there is no standardized referee training. We are getting there as far as formalized training is concerned, but we are not there yet.

Referees have to commit to their art and continually develop their skills by using the tools that are available to them and working hard. This process is not going to happen if one simply works their assignments. If you do this, no matter what level you are or are perceived to be, you will never really develop.

Let’s look at a few training tools and techniques:


Many swear that the best training technique, or aid, is working sparring matches in the gym. In the ring, practice is a great development tool especially for mechanics. But going to a gym to work sparring matches has an often overlooked down side as it places a referee in an association with boxers, trainers, managers, etc., on their turf, and sooner or later, the referee is going to come across the same people in real competition. This poses a real dilemma. Therefore, I caution referees who frequent gyms to try to stay away from the pros and perhaps work mainly with the amateurs.

What I personally do at home at least twice a week is I work out in my garage. I pretend that I am in the ring and I’m reacting to various scenarios. I know this may sound and look a little crazy (as some of my neighbors have told my wife), but it really works. It is at my own speed and it allows me to go through all of the basic mechanics steps. It’s also a good cardio workout.

With that said, let us look at this type of training from the premise that the boxers are simply practicing and your presence does not impede their training. This is the ideal situation as it promotes your training and not theirs.

In these sessions, your primary focus should be on movement and positioning.

Be cognizant of the open or dominant side. Get closer when they get to the ropes. Get the best angle when they are infighting. Look for potential fouls, particularly, illegal use of the head. Work on an easy flow rhythm of movement. Calm, natural and on your toes.

Secondly, focus on your mechanics. If possible, have the boxers role-play. Work on separating the boxers, your end of the round mechanics, dislodged mouthpiece, knockdowns, etc. Your goal in doing these drills is to think as you are performing the various steps. It is not real boxing, so you can be a little more deliberate and place more emphasis on the basic steps of the mechanics.


The biggest roadblock to good study is complacency.

The first step to obtaining basic referee knowledge is getting a thorough knowledge of your rules and how they are applied to specific situations through study habits. Look for referee materials. There is always something coming out at conventions for referees. Doctor handouts, mechanics techniques, manuals, etc. Save them and study them.

Studying videos is an absolute must for development. The key to watching videos is to focus ONLY on the referee. Look at every single movement and call he makes. Take notes. Use slo mo.

If you have videos of yourself, I recommend that you watch them undisturbed with pen and paper in hand. Focus on yourself and look at everything you do. Observe your general movement and slo mo every one of your interactions. Try your best to nit pick. Hey, nobody’s watching right?

This may sound like overkill to some, but trust me, it works!


The expense of traveling and attending seminars at times may be great. However, you should try your best to attend one good seminar every year. Organizations such as the ABC, IPRO, and the sanctioning bodies hold training seminars.

In the near future, formal training may become a licensing requirement.


The general movement of the ABC and major commissions is towards testing and evaluating referees. This process hasn’t completely caught on, but I think it will happen. In 2004 and in the future you may not only have to be able to show that you can do it, but explain it too!

To prepare yourself, go over your rules, handouts, manuals, etc. and ask yourself questions. After all, shouldn’t a world-class referee be able to clearly explain and articulate what his responses to various scenarios are? Absolutely.

Any comments boxing friends?

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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 16 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 columns 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 column, he or she should contact Armando Garcia at:

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