Connect with us

Featured Articles

THE MARKSMAN FIRES FILE: Q n A With Judge Robert Hoyle

Published

on

The business of boxing has multiple levels of understanding. Sports officials usually let their results do the talking and rarely reveal much about themselves, or the method to their madness. And from a distance, officials in sports are obsessed with perfection. But what gets lost in officiating is the passion for the sport.

Dancing boxers and Mike Tyson fights are some of the things that run through the mind of Robert Hoyle, the highly regarded boxing judge out of the state of Nevada.

Hoyle never fought professionally but grew up a fighter. He was in the military for 21 years before entering boxing.

In this interview, Hoyle reminds us that judges are not getting rich writing on scorecards. As Hoyle tells us, “No one has came up and said, ‘Hey, here is some money. Take care of my guy.’ But as sports are viewed as a level playing field where the best man usually wins, Hoyle oversees the outcome and senses the disconnection at times between the way fans and officials watch fights.

Hoyle’s boxing journey started in the 1980s when he worked security at Caesars Palace sports events, covering prizefights like Marvin Hagler vs. Ray Leonard. In 1992, Hoyle switched roles to be an inspector, working corners and overseeing fighters. In 1999, Hoyle seized the opportunity to become a boxing judge, and he has worked some of the more memorable fights in recent memory, including the third fight between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez, and the Floyd Mayweather vs. Miguel Cotto fight.

Read on as Hoyle explains the art of judging, the Mike Tyson mystic, and the myth behind “fixed fights.”

Ray Markarian: Thanks for taking the time, Robert.

Robert Hoyle: Well hey, you called me, man, this is a privilege. I didn’t want to miss the chance to get to talk to you.

RM: Well, you know, to speak to a respected boxing judge that has worked many high profile fights is my privilege. Let’s keep it free flowing…. Let’s start off by telling me why you wanted to be a boxing judge.

RH: You know, I’ll tell you, my first exposure to boxing was when I started out as an inspector. And, I am not sure if you are familiar with the duties of an inspector. We work the corners and work with the fighters before the fights…

RM: Yeah.

RH: OK. So, some of the fights that got me real charged up back in the day were the Tyson fights. Mike Tyson real made me a fan of boxing. From working security for events to becoming an inspector, I got the opportunity to go into the amateur program as a boxing judge and it became like a bug to me. And once you catch the bug in boxing you’re stuck. It’s the same reason why a lot of fighters can’t retire. They keep coming back because they got that bug. And that’s what I got. So, once I started as an inspector, I wanted to do more. I enjoyed what I was doing with the fighters in the dressing rooms and sitting ringside. It felt good to be a part of the event and actually make a difference. I think we all come across situations in life where we get an opportunity to make a difference, and I wanted to make a difference in boxing.

RM: So, how did you even get a job as an inspector? I’m sure it’s not easy.

RH: Yeah, it’s funny you say that. I saw your interview with Kenny (boxing referee Kenny Bayless.) Kenny and I have this six-degrees of separation. Kenny started off as an inspector. When he got called up to be a referee, I took his spot as an inspector.

RM: Wow. Small world.

RH: Yeah. I just happened to be in the right place at the time.

RM: What is the main thing that has changed about your experience as judge from when you started in 1999 to the present day?

RH: You never stop learning. I worked with a lot of officials that are more senior than I am, and they don’t think they need to learn anymore. They think they know it all. But you always see different angles when you learn.

RM: Then what makes you different from any other judge?

RH: Well, I wouldn’t say I am different. But I am constantly try to reinvent or recharge myself.

RM: You always want to stay sharp.

RH: Exactly. You see, as a judge, I learn a lot from referees and other judges. Referees need to know the rules. And judges need to know the rules. If a referee calls a knockdown, it’s a knockdown. But if he doesn’t see it, it didn’t happen.

RM: What is the biggest disconnection in your opinion between the way fans and officials sees fights?

RH: Everybody wants to believe that a fight is close. If one round is close, sometimes a fan thinks the entire fight was close. The casual fan needs to remember that a 12 round championship fight has 12 individual fights.

RM: So, do you use a basic criterion for every fight?

RH: Well, before every round I want to see who controls the action and who can do the most damage. In my opinion, the smart fighter will come out in the first round and jump on the other guy. That’s why we had so many knockouts in the first round back in the day… The best fighters never gave their opponent the chance to get into his groove. The smartest thing to do is catch the opponent off guard in the first round.

RM: What are you looking for when there isn’t a knockout?

RH: Well, I am still looking at scoring blows. Fans don’t remember a scoring zone. As a judge you have to remember if a punch landed on the opponents’ back or back of the head, then it’s not a scoring blow. It may have caused some damage, but it’s not a scoring blow.

RM: So, tell me more about that. What is a scoring blow?

RH: A scoring blow is any punch that lands between the navel and top of the forehead. You split the ears and go back down to the body. Any punch on the back, I don’t care how strong of a punch that is… You have a lot of boxers that like to turn their back defensively; they are forcing their opponent outside of the scoring zone.

RM: Do you remember the first fight between Evander Holyfield and Riddick Bowe?

RH: Yeah I do.

RM: Well, Bowe knocked Holyfield down with a blow to the back of the head. In the 11th round, Bowe kind of got out of his way and Holyfield fell into the ropes, and took an illegal shot. The referee scored that a knockdown. Is that a scoring blow?

RH: Well, that’s the referee’s call. In a particular fight, if a fighter is throwing a punch and you turn your head to cause that blow to land outside the scoring zone, the referee can call it a knockdown. The name of the game is to hit and not get hit.

RM: But if the referee did not call it a knockdown, then it’s a rabbit punch, and you just keep going?

RH: Right. But you do consider the attacking fighter’s aggression. Let me just tell you this; if the round is really close, you must identify the effective aggressor. Now, that Bowe punch wasn’t an effective, aggressive punch because it was outside the scoring zone but he was still aggressive. He was trying to win the fight. Out of everything I tell you, you have to remember that a boxing judge is looking for that guy who is trying to win.

RM: Looking for that guy who is trying to win?

RH: Yeah.

RM: Well, most times both of the fighters are trying to win, right?

RH: Very true.

RM: So how do you prepare to judge a fight?

RH: People ask me that question all the time. But you never know who is going to show up in the ring on that particular night. It could be Tyson and Holyfield. Everybody knows those fighters but I don’t know where Tyson’s mind is going to be on that (fight) night and I don’t know where Holyfield’s mind is going to be that (fight) night. I just know that someone is going to establish that dominant authority when they come together in the ring. And that’s what I am looking for, I am looking for that fighter that is establishing dominant authority in that ring for that particular round.

RM: How much does momentum play into a fight?

RH: Look, I am not a fortuneteller. You can look at all of the history you want. I can’t tell you which fighter is coming in that ring the hungriest. If Fighter A and Fighter B jump in the ring today and then fight again six months from now, I expect the fight to be completely different, because you don’t know what’s going on in their head. Boxing is a mental sport. If your mind is not ready for what you are about to engage in, it will take you out of the fight.

RM: What do you think it takes to get recognized as a “good” judge?

RH: Well, I am just very lucky to grow up as an official around the top guys in the game, here in Las Vegas. I am fortunate enough to pick their brains to ask what they are looking for, and how they identify who is causing the most damage. I say the word “damage” sort of nonchalantly but to me boxing is like a dance. If you watch two people dancing together, you automatically can spot who is leading the dance.

RM: Referee Jack Reiss once told me that there are a lot of posers in boxing. He said that many officials do not know what it feels like to take a punch. Do you agree with his thoughts on poser officials?

RH: Well, there are a lot of officials that don’t know what it takes to step in the ring. Sometimes it is good to know what a fighter is feeling. There are many officials that have not hit a punching bag. I am positive most officials have not laced up a pair of boxing shoes and stepped in the ring, not to fight an opponent, but just hop around in that ring. That boxing mat feels like sand after a while. You start feeling heavy around your feet. You begin to gain a different level of respect for fighters that can fight for 12 rounds, and still fight strong in that 12th round. You gain a whole new respect for them. If you don’t understand and see what happens in the gym, whether it’s sparring or just working out, you are doing yourself a disservice as an official.

RM: What is the first thing you are looking for when the round starts?

RH: One thing I can spot right away is when a particular fighter is moving in the wrong direction. The best fighters come with a plan. If you watch a fight closely and think of boxing as a dance, you can see one guy leading the other guy into a big punch. And that tells me the best fighters come with a plan. There’s guys that come to fight and there’s the ones that come with a plan. The fighters with a plan are like fortune tellers because they see the end coming. They watch their opponent’s movement.

RM: I hear you. One fighter will throw a punch to set it up for three or four punches later.

RH: That’s right. That’s exactly right.

RM: But we are talking about the casual fan that does not see it.

RH: No. They don’t see it. One thing I will tell you about becoming an official is that it robs you of the fandom. I watch fights at home like it is work. I don’t enjoy fights anymore. It’s work. I remember the last time I was a fan. Before I became an inspector, I was working security for a Tyson fight. Tyson used to create so much electricity in the arena. He made me feel like I was fighting.

RM: Sounds intense.

RH: I am not knocking any of the guys that are fighting today. There’s some great talent right now. But Tyson used to make you feel like you were a part of the event. I was a fan of Mike Tyson because he was so destructive and explosive.

RM: Which Tyson fight are you talking about?

RH: The Frank Bruno fight.

RM: Oh, the first fight?

RH: Yeah. You have to remember, Frank Bruno was a big guy. Tyson used to fight some massive guys. And Bruno was huge, but he was breathing so hard because he was nervous…. I was sitting ringside for that fight and Bruno’s abs looked like bricks. I remember thinking that if I fought this guy (Bruno) and punched him in the stomach I would probably break my wrist. When Mike comes out of the dressing room he was menacing. He had the look of, “Man, I am going to kill this guy.” We all know the end result. Tyson destroyed (Bruno). See, that’s the mental side of the sport that I am talking about. Bruno had the looks of a winner that night, but a lot of guys have the fight taken out of them before the walk in the ring.

RM: Can you give me an example of a time you worked a fight when a guy lost it mentally before he entered the ring?

RH: Well, I will tell you about the time when Mike Tyson fought Bruce Seldon. I worked as an inspector in Seldon’s corner, and we could hear Tyson warming up in his dressing room. And, when I am talking about warming up, I am talking about Tyson throwing punches at a wall.

RM: Tyson was shadow boxing?

RH: Yeah. But in Seldon’s dressing room we were thinking, “What is that noise? What is going on?” But Bruce knew what was going on… He knew what he was about to face. So, only a fighter can decide if he is ready to face that.

RM: That is a crazy story.

RH: Yeah. As an inspector, you have to stay neutral but I was just thinking about Seldon’s stress at the moment.

RM: You know, these stories are fun to talk about but I remember during that particular time, a lot of people thought the Tyson/Seldon fight was fixed.

RH: They can say what they want. But if you are not mentally prepared for someone like Mike Tyson, he will scare the hell out of you.

RM: OK.

RH: I mean, that’s just the truth. I think Bruce was ready for the fight physically. But he didn’t have the mental toughness like Holyfield. Holyfield made up his mind that he wasn’t going anywhere. Holyfield said he was good or better than Mike Tyson. And Holyfield went after him.

RM: But as a judge, I am sure you hear about “fixed fights” often…. I’ll be honest, I Googled your name before we got on the phone, and one of the first things that came up was an article written to the Nevada State Athletic Commission criticizing you about a fight that you judged. The article was basically declaring the fight corrupt partially because of your scorecard. How do you feel when you hear that?

RH: Well Ray, I am glad you asked me that question. I am fortunate enough to judge fights in the fight capital of the world. I mean there are some other great cities and states that hold amazing fights including California and New York. But let me just tell you this, Las Vegas is not a fighter-dependent city.

RM: What does fighter-dependent city mean?

RH: Some places have fighters that go to the top level and they represent a city, or state, or even a country. Las Vegas does not have that. Mike Tyson, Holyfield, and Mayweather, they built this city. Now, this guy that wrote an article about me, and I will tell you, I am in awe that he even took the time to pen that much about me, but no one in Las Vegas can even tell you about the fighters he is talking about. You know?

RM: And you always have to do a good job because your name is on the line.

RH: Exactly Ray. You can’t get discredited as an official and keep going. Everything that I do is critiqued so heavily. Most fighters will live to fight another day. An official is only as good as his last fight. I have to do a good job tonight because I have to work tomorrow. And I have to do a good job as the fans, the media, and the commission interpret it.

RM: Did you get any backlash from the commission for that article?

RH: I didn’t. But would they be eager to assign me to one of those fighters again? I don’t know. It is what it is.

RM: I hear you.

RH: I have no hidden agenda with any fighter. I feel like the justice of the sport is in my hands. If I don’t do the right thing, not only do I fail the fighters, but also I fail myself and my family, and my credibility in the sport.

RM: It is easy to question the credibility of a judge, right?

RH: Look Ray, I have done fights all over the world and I’ll be honest with you, I have seen home cooking. But for me, I don’t care who is the hometown or visiting guy. I just care about who wins that round.

RM: OK. But what does that say about the sport? How do you expect boxing fans to feel about the sport when they hear a professional judge talk about home cooking? Not about you, but about the sport.

RH: Well, what I will say about it is that a lot of the commissions and sanctioning bodies are aware of it. They know, and hear all the criticism. Nowadays, officials are not going to get away with it because someone is always watching. Being an official, I can watch a fight and read a scorecard, and I know what that judge was doing by reading the scorecard. It’s like reading a book. A long time ago, judges used to give a courtesy round.

RM: A courtesy round?

RH: Yeah. You know, if you have a guy that is winning eight or nine rounds straight, some judges used to start feeling bad for the guy that is losing and they say, “oh well, let’s give him a round.”

RM: OK.

RH: That type of stuff doesn’t work today. Every round is counted and scrutinized. You have to be on your A game every round. If an official makes a mistake, somebody is watching you do that and they will ask, “Why did you give him that round when he didn’t win it?” and you have to have a clear answer to justify it. Because you have the TV crew and the fans watching closely as well, sometimes you even have a fighter that says he didn’t win a round in a fight. So, as an official you have to be on your ‘A game.’ You cannot make a mistake. Good thing for the fans is that the officiating is continuing to get better. Everyone is working to get it better. There are more eyes on it. I will tell you what, for any fight that anyone feels challenged by me, one thing I will do is I will take the video and I will watch it with my director or other judges that I respect. I will ask them what they see.

RM: You want to use every fight as a learning tool.

RH: Correct.

RM: You are considered an expert but at the end of the day you want to continue to learn and become even better at what you do.

RH: That is right.

RM: What’s the best advice anyone has given you about your profession?

RH: Best advice?

RM: Yeah.

RH: Richard Steele once told me before one of the first big fights that I got assigned to, he said, “Don’t start doing something new today. What you have done has gotten you this far. Don’t change that and start something new.” I have always kept those words with me.

RM: What does boxing mean to you as a sport?

RH: You know, it’s just like for you in writing. I have read your articles. I saw your interview with Kenny. I know Kenny. You captured his essence. I visualized it. It was like I saw him talking. I wish I could write like you. But that wasn’t my calling. I don’t know how you found your calling, but you found it. I used to box when I was younger. I had some street fights when I was younger. So boxing was in me, but I joined the military so I didn’t really have a chance to pursue the sport. I didn’t choose boxing I fell into it. Something clicked.

RM: The passion for boxing just oozes out of you. I love it.

RH: Look man, we are not going to retire off of this sport. We do this for the love. Going back to how people say they pay us (judges) off. No one is coming up to us saying here’s 10 million dollars when their fighter is getting paid 30,000.

RM: That’s true.

RH: I’ll be honest with you, no one has came up and said, “Hey, here is some money. Take care of my guy.” Look, promoters and managers are paid to do what they do. It’s their job to hype up their guy. But I am going to tell you just like I would tell them, “the responsibility falls on your fighter. He needs to get in the ring to do what he is supposed to do because I have to do my job. And my job is score each round fairly for both fighters.”

RM: You have to look out for yourself first, right?

RH: Well, it’s like I said, I live and die by each fight.

You can follow Ray on Twitter @raymarkarian or email him here raymond.markarian@yahoo.com.


WATCH RELATED VIDEOS ON BOXINGCHANNEL.TV

Featured Articles

Billam-Smith Avenges Lone Defeat; Retains Cruiser Belt in a Messy Fight

Published

on

Billam-Smith-Avenges-Lone-Defeat-Retains-Cruiser-Belt-in-a-Messy-Fight

In a mild upset, Bournemouth’s Chris Billam-Smith, an overachiever, successfully defended his WBO cruiserweight title with an inelegant 12-round unanimous decision over previously undefeated Richard Riakporhe. In the process, Billam-Smith, who advanced to 20-1 (13), avenged his lone defeat. Riakporhe won a split decision in their previous encounter five years ago in London.

This was a messy fight marred by excessive clinching. Referee Steve Gray, who earned his pay, warned both fighters during the match for a laundry list of infractions and eventually deducted a point from Riakporhe for leading with his head. The point deduction came in the final round and sealed the win for the Bournemouth fighter who prevailed on scores of 116-111 and 115-112 twice. Riakporhe declined to 17-1.

The fight was contested outdoors at the Crystal Palace soccer grounds in South London. The sky was grey and a light rain was falling when the show started, but the rain let up well before nightfall.

Billam-Smith, who is trained by Shane McGuigan, was making the second defense of the title he won with an upset of Lawrence Okolie. The other cruiserweight title-holders are Jai Opetaia (IBF), Gilberto Ramirez (WBA) and Noel Mikaelyan (aka Noel Gevor). Billam-Smith would be a decided underdog to Opetaia. Fights with Ramirez and Mikaelyan would likely be snoozefests.

Semi-Wind-up

Olympic silver medalist Ben Whittaker, a light heavyweight whose arrogant showboating has translated into a large social media following, went 10 rounds for the first time in his career and won a lopsided decision, advancing his record to 8-0 (5). Whittaker’s opponent, Ezra Arenyeka, a 28-year-old Nigerian, brought a 12-0 record that on closer inspection included only three wins over opponents with winning records.

Arenyeka plowed forward much of the fight, but kept a high guard and had trouble letting his hands go. In round seven, he lost a point for hitting Whittaker in the face with an elbow. The scores were 100-89 and 99-90 twice.

Also

In another mild upset, Jack Massey won the vacant European cruiserweight title with a 12-round decision over Isaac Chamberlain. Massey, who improved to 22-2 (12), is a stablemate of reigning IBF female welterweight champion Natasha Jonas who was part of the broadcasting crew. He went 10 rounds in a losing effort with former heavyweight title-holder Joseph Parker in January of last year before returning to his natural weight class. This was a competitive fight with several momentum swings.  Chamberlain, 16-2 heading in, lost by scores of 116-112 and 115-113 twice.

Dan Azeez, who had Hall of Fame trainer Buddy McGirt in his corner, was expected to have an easy time with Hrvoje Sep, a 38-year-old Ukrainian, but Azeez (20-1-1) had to work hard to salvage a draw with Sep (12-2-1) in an 8-round light heavyweight match.

To comment on this story in the Fight Forum CLICK HERE

Continue Reading

Featured Articles

Notes on Saturday’s Boxing Action Topped by the Return of Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis

Published

on

Notes-on-Saturday's-Boxing-Card-Featuring-the-Return-of-Gervonta-Tank-Davis

Notes on Saturday’s Boxing Action Topped by the Return of Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis

Gervonta “Tank” Davis returns to the ring on Saturday after an absence of nearly 14 months that included a 44-day stint in a Baltimore jail. In the opposite corner is St. Louis southpaw Frank “The Ghost” Martin.

Davis (29-0, 27 KOs) is now the undisputed lightweight champion of the WBA. He had been sharing that distinction with Devin Haney who was de-frocked when he moved up in weight. Martin (18-0, 12 KOs) is also undefeated and their match is the main attraction of a four-fight pay-per-view on Amazon Prime Video and affiliates including PPV.com (list price $74.99) where viewers have the opportunity to interact with the hosts, namely Jim Lampley, Lance Pugmire, Chris Algieri, and Dan Conobbio.

One other world title fight and two contrived interim title fights support the main event. The title fight, which will serve as the PPV opener, pits WBC middleweight title-holder Carlos Adames (23-1, 19 KOs) against former U.S. Olympian Terrell Gausha (24-3-1, 12 KOs). Adames became a full-fledged title-holder last month when the organization stripped trouble-plagued Jermall Charlo of the belt within hours after his DWI arrest in Texas.

Tired of waiting around for Canelo, David Benavidez elected to move up in weight where he will face former WBC light heavyweight champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk.

It was inevitable that Benavidez (28-0, 24 KOs) would out-grow the super middleweight division. He carried 180 ¾ pounds for his second pro fight when he was 16 years old. Gvozdyk (20-1, 16 KOs) stepped away from boxing after getting stopped by Artur Beterbiev in a unification fight in October of 2019. He was badly beaten in that fight although he was ahead on two of the scorecards through the nine completed rounds. He missed all of 2020, 2021, and 2022 before returning to the ring in February of last year, shaking off the rust in a 6-round fight, and subsequently won two bouts by knockout. The Ukrainian turned 37 in April.

In the other interim title fight, super lightweight Gary Gary Antuanne Russell (17-0, 17 KOs) meets Alberto Puello (22-0, 10 KOs) in a battle of southpaws. Puello, a 29-year-old Dominican, briefly held the WBA diadem at 140, but had it stripped from him when he tested positive for PEDs.

Gervonta Davis has proved to be one of the biggest draws in boxing. Among American-born fighters, no one is currently at his level as a ticket-seller. However, it will be surprising if his bout with Frank Martin tomorrow night in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand can match the numbers he achieved in his last outing where he was pit against the charismatic Ryan Garcia who he stopped with a body punch in the seventh round. In all four of the fights on tomorrow’s pay-per-view, the favorite is chalked in the 7/1 range. Moreover, a DAZN event in Puerto Rico that overlaps the early portion of the pay-per-view may nibble away at the receipts.

Three high-grade 10-round preliminaries will precede the pay-per-view. These three fights, “teasers” as it were, can be accessed for free regardless of Prime membership. The action in the “free” portion of the card begins at 5:30 pm ET/2:30 pm PT.

DAZN

The DAZN card is a Matchroom promotion in Manati, Puerto Rico. IBF 140-pound world champion Subriel Matias makes the second defense of his title against Brisbane, Australia’s Liam Paro. A late bloomer, Matias (20-1, 20 KOs) has knocked out all of his opponents including the only man to defeat him (Petros Ananyan). Paro (24-0, 15 KOs) looked sharp in his last fight wherein he TKOed Montana Love, but will be up against it in Puerto Rico. Matias, who is making his first start in his hometown since 2019, is already looking ahead to a match with Regis Prograis.

The Matias-Paro ring walk is expected to commence shortly before 11 pm, ET/8 pm PT.

PEACOCK

For diehard fight fans in the U.S., it will be wall-to-wall boxing for about 11 straight hours beginning at 1:30 pm ET/10:30 am PT when NBC’s subscription channel, Peacock, begins its coverage of the WBO cruiserweight title fight in South London between Chris Billam-Smith (19-1, 13 KOs) and Richard Riakporhe. (17-0, 13 KOs).

Billam-Smith, who is trained by Shane McGuigan, will be making the second defense of the title he won with an upset of Lawrence Okolie while seeking to avenge his lone defeat. These two met in a 10-rounder back in July of 2019 with Riakporhe emerging the winner by a split decision.

Billam-Smith’s last two fights have been in his hometown of Bournemouth. Tomorrow, he fights on the grounds of the Crystal Palace Football Club of which Riakporhe is a big supporter. The bookies like the Londoner’s chance to prevail again. The challenger, Riakporhe, is an 11/5 favorite.

Fights to Watch (All Times Pacific)

Peacock: Chris Billam-Smith vs. Richard Riakporhe: 2:00 p.m. (prelims beginning at 10:30 a.m.)

DAZN: Subriel Matias vs. Liam Paro: 7:45 p.m. (prelims beginning at 4:30 p.m.)

AMAZON PRIME VIDEO PPV: Gervonta Davis vs. Frank Martin plus three: 5:00 p.m. (prelims beginning at 2:30 p.m.)

To comment on this story in the Fight Forum CLICK HERE

Continue Reading

Featured Articles

Boxing at the Paris Olympics: Looking Ahead and Looking Back

Published

on

Boxing-at-the-Paris-Olympics-Looking-Ahead-and-Looking-Back

One hundred years ago, Paris was the host city for the Summer Olympics. What goes around, comes around.

In the upcoming Paris Games, boxers will compete for medals in 13 categories. The number remains unchanged from Tokyo, but the ratio has been modified. In Tokyo, there were eight weight classes for men and five for women. The men have lost one and the women have gained one, so in 2024 it is seven and six.

Eight American boxers made it through the qualifying tournaments and will represent Uncle Sam in the City of Lights.

The U.S. boxing contingent in Paris

Men

Roscoe Hill, flyweight (51 kg), Spring TX

Jahmal Harvey, featherweight (57 kg), Oxon Hill, MD

Omari Jones, middleweight (71 kg), Orlando, FL

Joshua Edwards, super heavyweight, Houston, TX

Women

Jennifer Lozano, flyweight (50 kg), Laredo, Tx

Alyssa Mendoza, featherweight (57 kg), Caldwell, ID

Jajaira Gonzalez, lightweight (60 kg), Montclair, CA

Morelle McCane, welterweight (66 kg), Cleveland, OH

Paris, 1924

At the Paris Summer Games of 1924, boxers competed for medals in the eight standard weight classes. The competition was restricted to men. Female boxers were excluded until the 2012 Games in London where the women were sorted into three weight classes: flyweight, lightweight, and middleweight.

Twenty-seven nations sent one or more boxers to the 1924 Games. In total, there were 181 competitors. The United States and Great Britain had the largest squads. Each sent 16 men into the tournament, the maximum allowable as each nation was allowed two entrants in each of the weight classes.

The United States and Great Britain each walked away with two gold medals. The other gold medal winners represented Denmark, Norway, Belgium, and South Africa. But the U.S. team garnered the most medals, six overall including two silver and two bronze, two more than the runner-up, Great Britain.

What’s interesting is that three of the six U.S. medalists came out of the same gym, the Los Angeles Athletic Club. They were proteges of the club’s boxing instructor George Blake who would go on to become one of America’s top referees. The trio included both gold medalists, flyweight Fidel LaBarba and featherweight Jackie Fields, and silver medalist Joe Salas who had the misfortune of meeting Fields in the finals.

LaBarba and Fields were mature beyond their years. LaBarba was 18 years old and hadn’t yet completed high school when he secured a berth on the U.S. Olympic team. Fields, a high school dropout, was even younger. He was 16 years, five months, and 11 days old on the day that he won his gold medal. That remains the record for the youngest boxer of any nationality to win Olympic gold.

Fields and LaBarba both went on to win world titles at the professional level. Let’s take a look at their post-Paris careers. We will start with Fields and save the brilliant LaBarba for another day.

Jackie Fields  

Jackie Fields was born Jacob Finkelstein in the Maxwell Street ghetto of Chicago. His father, an immigrant from Russia and a butcher by trade, moved the family to Los Angeles when Jackie was 14 years old.

Jackie Fields

Jackie Fields

Fields turned pro in February of 1925. Despite his tender age, he was fast-tracked owing to his Olympic pedigree. But his manager Gig Rooney blundered when he put Jackie in against Jimmy McLarnin in only his seventh pro fight. A baby-faced assassin, born in Northern Ireland and raised in Canada, McLarnin, destined to be remembered as an all-time great, was more advanced than Jackie and blasted him out in the second round.

Fields rebounded to win his next 16 fights. His signature win during this run was a 12-round newspaper decision over Sammy Mandell, the Rockford Sheik. Mandell was the reigning world lightweight champion, but because this was officially a no-decision fight, a concession to Mandell, the title could not change hands unless Fields knocked him out.

Fields’ skein ended at New York’s Polo Grounds where he was out-pointed across 10 rounds by Louis “Kid” Kaplan, a 108-fight veteran and former world featherweight title-holder. But Fields built his way back into contention and claimed the world welterweight title in March of 1929 by winning a 10-round decision over Young Jack Thompson at the Chicago Coliseum. They fought for the title vacated by Joe Dundee who was stripped of the belt for failing to defend his title in a timely manner.

The jubilation that Fields felt in winning the title was tempered by an ugly incident in the eighth round when a race riot broke out in the balcony. One man died when he jumped or was pushed off the balcony and scores were injured; “more than thirty” according to one report. Many ringsiders, to avoid flying objects, took refuge inside the ropes but the contest continued after the disturbance was quelled and the ring was cleared.

Fields made the first defense of the title against Joe Dundee. They fought at the Michigan State Fairgrounds in Detroit before an estimated 25,000.

Fields had Dundee on the canvas twice before Dundee was disqualified in the second round for a low blow. The punch was clearly intentional. Fields, to his great distress, wasn’t wearing a protective cup. Heading in, Joe Dundee was still recognized as the champion in New York, so one could say that Jackie Fields unified the title.

After a series of non-title fights, Fields lost the belt to old rival Young Jack Thompson. At the conclusion of the 15-round contest, Young Jack was a bloody mess – he would need to go to a hospital to have his lacerations repaired –but Thompson, who also came up the ladder in California rings, was fairly deemed the winner. This would be the last collaboration between Fields and Gig Rooney. The wily Jack “Doc” Kearns, who had managed Jack Dempsey and was then involved with Mickey Walker, horned right in and became Jackie’s new manager.

Kearns maneuvered Fields into a match with Lou Brouillard who had wrested the title from Thompson four months earlier and Fields rose to the occasion, winning a unanimous 10-round decision in Chicago to become a two-time world welterweight champion. It was a furious battle, wrote the correspondent for the Chicago Tribune. “[Fields] hit Brouillard with everything but the water bucket.”

After another series of non-title fights, Fields risked his belt against Young Corbett III. They fought at the baseball park in San Francisco before an estimated 15,000 on the afternoon of Feb. 22, 1933.

Fields was damaged goods. He had suffered a detached retina in his right eye in a minor auto accident and there was no cure for it. Corbett III (Rafaele Giordano) was a southpaw which was all wrong for a boxer with blurred vision in his right eye. Jackie fought back valiantly after losing the first five rounds, but lost the decision. The referee’s card (6-3-1 for Corbett III) appeared a tad generous to the loser.

Fields retired after one more fight. A closer look at his final record (72-9-2, 31 KOs) shows that he had 19 fights with 10 men who held a world title at some point in their career, including six future Hall of Famers (Jimmy McLarnin, Louis “Kid” Kaplan, Sammy Mandell, “Gorilla” Jones, Lou Brouillard, and Young Corbett III), and was 12-6-1 in these encounters. He was stopped only once, that by the great McLarnin in Jackie’s seventh pro fight.

Jackie Fields Post-Boxing

Fields wasn’t in good shape financially when he left the sport. His various investments were shambled by the stock market crash of 1929. For a time, he lived in Pennsylvania, first in Pittsburgh and then in Philadelphia where he was a distributor for the Wurlitzer juke box company and a sales executive with a distillery.

In 1957, he purchased an interest in a gambling establishment, the Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas. (Note: In Nevada, prior to 1967, public corporations were prohibited from owning or operating a property that housed a casino. Anyone purchasing one or more shares, called points, had to submit to a background check which did little to stanch the influence of the mob.)

Fields eventually sold his shares, but remained with the Tropicana in a public relations capacity. During the 1970s, he served on the Nevada State Athletic Commission. He passed away in 1987 at age 79 at a nursing home in Las Vegas after being hospitalized for a heart ailment. In 2004, he was inducted posthumously into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

For all that he accomplished as a pro, Fields always insisted that his proudest moment came in Paris. “As I stood there, with the band playing the Star Spangled Banner, I cried like a baby, I was that thrilled.”

PHOTO: 2024 U.S. Olympian Roscoe Hill

To comment on this story in the Forum CLICK HERE

 

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Ireland's-McKenna-Brothers-are-Poised-to-Make-Big-Waves-in-the-Squared-Circle
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Ireland’s McKenna Brothers are Poised to Make Big Waves in the Squared Circle

Avila-Perspective-Chap-284-Tyson-Fury-Oleksandr-Usyk-and-Much-More
Featured Articles4 weeks ago

Avila Perspective, Chap. 284: Tyson Fury, Oleksandr Usyk, and Much More

Oleksandr-Usyk-from-a-Historical-Perspective
Featured Articles4 weeks ago

Oleksandr Usyk from a Historical Perspective 

Christian-Mbilli-has-the-Wow-Factor-Dismisses-Mark-Heffron-in-40-Seconds
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

Christian Mbilli has the Wow Factor: Dismisses Mark Heffron in 40 Seconds

Undisputed-Usyk-Defeats-Fury-Plua-Undercard-Results-from-Riyadh
Featured Articles4 weeks ago

UNDISPUTED ! – Usyk Defeats Fury ! – Plus Undercard Results from Riyadh

Another-Victory-for-Ukraine-as-Berinchyk-Upsets-Navarrete-in-San-Diego
Featured Articles4 weeks ago

Another Victory for Ukraine as Berinchyk Upsets Navarrete in San Diego

The-Inoue-and-Serrano-Championship-Warches
Featured Articles1 week ago

The Inoue and Serrano Championship Watches

Boxinjg-Odds-and-Ends-A-Bountiful-June-and-a-Cult-Fighter-Returns-from-Prisonj
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Boxing Odds and Ends: A Bountiful June and a Cult Fighter Returns from Prison

Big-Bang-KOs-the-Bronze-Bomber-in-the-Heavyweight-Finale-of-a-Splendid-Show-in-Saudi-Arabia
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

‘Big Bang’ KOs the Bronze Bomber in the Heavyweight Finale of a Splendid Card in Saudi Arabia

In-a-One-Sided-Beatdown-Batyr-Jukenbayev-TKOs-Shopworn-Ivan-Redkach
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

In a One-Sided Beatdown, Batyr Jukembayev TKOs Shopworn Ivan Redkach

How-Soon-Before-We-Know-the-Fate-of-Ryan-Garcia-and-Will-the-Result-Stand?
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

How Soon Before We Know the Fate of Ryan Garcia and Will the Result Stand?

Ireland's-Callum-Walsh-KOs-Carlos-Ortiz-at-the-Chumash-Casino
Featured Articles1 week ago

Ireland’s Callum Walsh KOs Carlos Ortiz at the Chumash Casino

Gay-Talese-an-Icon-of-the-New-Journalism-Wrote-Extensively-About-Boxing
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

Gay Talese, an Icon of the ‘New Journalism,’ Wrote Extensively About Boxing

Okolie-Demolishes-Rozanski-to-Jump-Start-a-Busy-Boxing-Weekend
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

Okolie Demolishes Rozanski to Jump-Start a Busy Boxing Weekend

zhilei-Zhang-and-Deontay-Wilder-Meet-at-the-Final-Crossroads
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

Zhilei Zhang and Deontay Wilder Meet at the Final Crossroads

Avila-Perspective-Chap-285-Heavyweights-Clash-in-Saudi-Arabia-and-More
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Avila Perspective, Chap. 285: Heavyweights Clash in Saudi Arabia and More

Sweet-Revenge-for-the-Cat-Catterall-Outpoints-Taylor-in-a-Fan-Friendly-Fight
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

Sweet Revenge for the ‘Cat’: Catterall Outpoints Taylor in a Fan-Friendly Fight

Boxing-at-the-Paris-Olympics-Looking-Ahead-and-Looking-Back
Featured Articles4 days ago

Boxing at the Paris Olympics: Looking Ahead and Looking Back

Canastota-Chronicles-2024
Featured Articles6 days ago

Canastota Chronicles 2024

Boxing-Notes-and-Nuggets-from-Thomas-Hauser
Featured Articles6 days ago

Boxing Notes and Nuggets from Thomas Hauser

Billam-Smith-Avenges-Lone-Defeat-Retains-Cruiser-Belt-in-a-Messy-Fight
Featured Articles2 hours ago

Billam-Smith Avenges Lone Defeat; Retains Cruiser Belt in a Messy Fight

Notes-on-Saturday's-Boxing-Card-Featuring-the-Return-of-Gervonta-Tank-Davis
Featured Articles1 day ago

Notes on Saturday’s Boxing Action Topped by the Return of Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis

Boxing-at-the-Paris-Olympics-Looking-Ahead-and-Looking-Back
Featured Articles4 days ago

Boxing at the Paris Olympics: Looking Ahead and Looking Back

Arne's-Almanac-More-Chaos-for-Ryan-Garcia-and-a-Note-on-Don-King's-Impotent-'Whip'
Featured Articles5 days ago

Arne’s Almanac: More Chaos for Ryan Garcia and a Note on Don King’s Impotent ‘Whip’

Canastota-Chronicles-2024
Featured Articles6 days ago

Canastota Chronicles 2024

Boxing-Notes-and-Nuggets-from-Thomas-Hauser
Featured Articles6 days ago

Boxing Notes and Nuggets from Thomas Hauser

Xander-Zayas-Wins-a-Lopsided-Decision-Over-Patrick-Teixeira
Featured Articles7 days ago

Xander Zayas Wins a Lopsided Decision over Patrick Teixeira

Ireland's-Callum-Walsh-KOs-Carlos-Ortiz-at-the-Chumash-Casino
Featured Articles1 week ago

Ireland’s Callum Walsh KOs Carlos Ortiz at the Chumash Casino

Resukts-from-Florida-Where-Blair-Cobbs-Proved-Superior-to-Adrien-Broner
Featured Articles1 week ago

Results from Florida Where Blair Cobbs Proved Superior to Adrien Broner

The-Inoue-and-Serrano-Championship-Warches
Featured Articles1 week ago

The Inoue and Serrano Championship Watches

Avila-Prospectus-Chap-287-360-Promotions-Don-King-and-More-Action
Featured Articles1 week ago

Avila Perspective, Chap. 289: 360 Promotions, Don King and More Action

Boxinjg-Odds-and-Ends-A-Bountiful-June-and-a-Cult-Fighter-Returns-from-Prisonj
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Boxing Odds and Ends: A Bountiful June and a Cult Fighter Returns from Prison

Big-Bang-KOs-the-Bronze-Bomber-in-the-Heavyweight-Finale-of-a-Splendid-Show-in-Saudi-Arabia
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

‘Big Bang’ KOs the Bronze Bomber in the Heavyweight Finale of a Splendid Card in Saudi Arabia

Avila-Perspective-Chap-285-Heavyweights-Clash-in-Saudi-Arabia-and-More
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Avila Perspective, Chap. 285: Heavyweights Clash in Saudi Arabia and More

Ireland's-McKenna-Brothers-are-Poised-to-Make-Big-Waves-in-the-Squared-Circle
Featured Articles2 weeks ago

Ireland’s McKenna Brothers are Poised to Make Big Waves in the Squared Circle

Gay-Talese-an-Icon-of-the-New-Journalism-Wrote-Extensively-About-Boxing
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

Gay Talese, an Icon of the ‘New Journalism,’ Wrote Extensively About Boxing

zhilei-Zhang-and-Deontay-Wilder-Meet-at-the-Final-Crossroads
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

Zhilei Zhang and Deontay Wilder Meet at the Final Crossroads

Christian-Mbilli-has-the-Wow-Factor-Dismisses-Mark-Heffron-in-40-Seconds
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

Christian Mbilli has the Wow Factor: Dismisses Mark Heffron in 40 Seconds

Sweet-Revenge-for-the-Cat-Catterall-Outpoints-Taylor-in-a-Fan-Friendly-Fight
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

Sweet Revenge for the ‘Cat’: Catterall Outpoints Taylor in a Fan-Friendly Fight

Okolie-Demolishes-Rozanski-to-Jump-Start-a-Busy-Boxing-Weekend
Featured Articles3 weeks ago

Okolie Demolishes Rozanski to Jump-Start a Busy Boxing Weekend

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending

Advertisement