Abolish Boxing’s Committee of Poor Judgment

Damon Runyon

Wilkes-Barre Evening News/October 18, 1934

Bill Brown, able member of the New York boxing commission, was voted down by his two associates on the most sensible suggestion that has been made by that august body in some time.

Perhaps that is the reason it was voted down.

Bill Brown wanted the present round-by-round scoring of fights in New York abolished, and a point system introduced.

Bill Brown also wanted the matter of physical condition of a fighter at the end of a bout taken into consideration by the officials in reaching their decision, a suggestion even more important than the other.

Bill Brown’s idea is that if a fighter is tottering around and ready to dive into the resin at the end of the final round, that is something distinctly in favor of the other fellow, no matter how many early rounds the tottery bloke has won.

Bill Brown is quite right.

Old time referees always took the condition into their reckonings, and this writer has for years contended the importance of the point.

A great “come-behinder” may be stabbed all over the premises in the early rounds, yet have his man staggering up Queer St. at the finish, and thoroughly beaten.

The “come-behinder” ought to have the verdict.

It is silly to give a decision to a man who could not get off his stool for another round.

The writer thinks judges should be done away with entirely, and the referee made the sole arbiter of a fight.

If the objection is that this plan would deprive some worthy citizens of occasional work, let them be paid anyway to remain away from the ring.

The one-man system would cut down disputed decisions about 50 per cent. It would facilitate matters generally. The three-man jury now employed is cumbersome and retarding, and experience has demonstrated that it has not raised the standard of decisions one little bit.

Indeed, the writer is inclined to think that it has lowered the standard.

The evil-minded will at once say that one man is easier to reach than two, and that with only a referee the larceny boys would have a better opportunity to get in their dirty work.

The writer’s reply to this is that if boxing cannot trust its referee, we ought to do away with boxing. It might be a good idea, regardless of other considerations.

In the old days of boxing when only a referee did the deciding, there were no more complaints of dishonesty or favoritism than you hear nowadays when a posse does the judging, if as much. No more than you hear right now about baseball umpires, or other sports officials.

The old time referees were proud of their reputations, and rarely did anything to jeopardize them. George Siler, Malachy Hogan, Jack Welsh, Billy Roche, Tim Hurst, Charely White, Jim Griffin, and scores of old timers worked in hundreds of tough boxing bouts, gave their decisions promptly, and while sometimes their judgment might be deemed faulty, their honesty was never questioned.

To this day, when boxing men find themselves in doubt as to the impartiality of the officials that may be offered them, they turn to one man, whose presence in the ring is regarded as the 18-karat mark of square dealing. That man is George Blake, of California.

No manager, or fighter, cares if any judges are present if they can get Blake.

There are many honest and capable referees in New York City.

They would do much better work if they were permitted to handle a bout alone, unhampered by judges. Often a referee gets blamed for some incompetency of the judges.

A real referee takes a sort of mental picture of a bout as a whole, without bothering to jot down his impressions between rounds, and on that picture he renders his verdict, and in nine times out of ten it works out better than the joke expert-accounting system employed in New York.

Bill Brown will be doing the game a great favour if he can induce his associates to throw away the judges, and get back to first principles. But perhaps that suggestion is also a little too sensible.

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