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Referee's Focus Should Also be Fighters Safety


PhilBoxing.com




While the referee stands inside the square arena primarily to ensure the proper conduct of a fight by seeing to it that rules and regulations are followed by the ring protagonists and their corners, focus should and must also be given to ensuring the safety of the fighters.

This was underscored by Japanese-American former US Navy boxing champion turned referee/judge Robert Bridges in a recent live studio interview with this writer and Romuel Alarcon in our weekly boxing show "Sport Lang" airing every Saturday 3-5 pm over Radyo Pilipinas 2. Bridges was recipient of the Best Referee award from the World Boxing Council in the recent Sports Summit organized by the Games and Amusement Board (GAB) at the PICC in Pasay City, Metro Manila.

Bridges made particular mention of this in view of the latest ring fatality in the person of Patrick Day, also a former US amateur boxer turned professional fighter who succumbed to brain injuries after a KO loss to ironically another ex US amateur fighter Charles Conwell recently.

Top photo: Patrick Day lies unconscious in the canvas after being knocked out by Charles Conwell in the final round of their 10-round scheduled USBA super welterweight title fight on Oct. 12, 2019 at the Wintrust Arena in Chicago.

He said the dreary outcome of that fight once again underlined the fact that boxing is a very dangerous sport and being the third man inside the ring, the referee must and should take particular focus on ensuring the safety of the fighters even as he is enforcing the rules and regulations governing fights.

It was only last July that promising Russian welterweight prospect Maxim Dadashev passed away also due to brain injuries four days after his fight against Puerto Rican Subriel Mathias where he was stopped in the eighth round.

Despite reforms instituted to protect the fighters including requiring them to undergo medical laboratory tests including CT Scan before and after fights, injuries even deaths still occur and therefore authorities have to look deeper and more thoroughly on the factors that could trigger or contribute to such unfortunate incidents, Bridges noted.


Robert Bridges.

Bridges said that medical procedures are being strictly implemented under and by the GAB in partnership with the Department of Health (DOH) that is why there have been no untoward incidents happening in local pro boxing bouts.

The now 45 year old Bridges, was born in Japan where his father an American serviceman then stationed in Okinawa met his Japanese wife. They stayed there for six years before moving to England and finally the USA following his father's assignments.

Following the footstep of his father, Robert also joined the US military and fulfilled his boyhood dream of becoming a boxer winning several inter-service competition awards. His love and passion for boxing was nurtured with him watching with his dad reels upon reels of boxing fights and documentaries dating back to the sport's earliest days.

He met his Filipina wife, July, from the sultry seaside town of Pasacao in Camarines Sur fifteen years ago. He not only fell in love with her but with her country and he decided to settle here since then and pursued another goal of his after boxing, that of becoming a ring official.

Being a former boxer and with his wide knowledge of the sport, he soon became a certified professional boxing judge and referee as licensed by the GAB. He has been an accredited ring official with the WBC.

Robert said that he is doing more judging fights locally and doing more refereeing abroad, the latest being a big boxing promotion in Singapore. As basically a teacher/trainor, he likewise conducts seminars and workshops on officiating and judging boxing bouts.

He said his being a former fighter and still a voracious seekers of knowledge and information, both past and current, give him some edge as a referee and a judge.

He offers some advice to fighters: Always come in tiptop condition and bring your A game to every fight. And always be reminded that anything can happen in a fight.

To his fellow ring referees: Continue learning and adding to your knowledge and also try to get and stay in shape physically because boxing is a highly mobile and dynamic, physically taxing sport.

To his fellow ring judges: Continue to learn and improve on our craft and also keep ourselves physically and mentally fit.

"When we are officiating or judging fights, we ourselves are being judged by the viewing fans and public," Robert Bridges concluded.

The author Teodoro Medina Reynoso is a veteran boxing radio talk show host living in the Philippines. He can be reached at teddyreynoso@yahoo.com and by phone 09215309477.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Teodoro Medina Reynoso.


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