Tag Archives: referee

Steve “Double SS” Smoger Passes the 1,000 bout Mark

Posted on 05/10/2018

By: Ken Hissner

Whenever you think of someone that presents himself in the ring and can “outshine” the boxers in the corners you can picture “Steve Smoger”. How many times have a witnessed at boxing events people from the audience go up to him and introduce themselves in order to say “I met Steve Smoger” at the fights? He finally passed the 1,000 bout mark recently and at age 68 you would never guess his age for the way he still moves around in the ring.

It all began in 1978 when Smoger got a call from the former world heavyweight champion “Jersey” Joe Walcott who was then the New Jersey Boxing Commissioner in need of an inspector for a show that night. In September of 1982 Smoger was granted a referee license.

There are few if any can come close to match how many countries Smoger has served as a referee. At last count it was around the “30” mark give or take! He email’s me at times letting me know what country his next assignment will be in.

Smoger was finally inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2015. In 2018 he is the only active IBHOF inductee still active. If he wasn’t serving as a referee he would be an ideal guest speaker on boxing and even the law being a former Municipal Court Judge in his hometown of Atlantic City, New Jersey. He also was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force Reserves serving 30 years before retiring in 2005.

Besides being a referee he has also served as a boxing judge in over 30 events which is quite unusual for an active referee. There was a time in New Jersey as it was in the United Kingdom that a referee was the lone judge in a bout. He did serve as a judge from 1996-2015 with the last time in of all places Russia.

Even though known as a “no-nonsense” I have witnessed him giving a boxer every chance to continue if he thinks the boxer is capable. The fight that comes to mind is when heavyweight Amir “Hardcore” Mansour had two-time world cruiserweight champion Steve “USS” Cunningham on the deck and it looked like he was about to stop the fight. It was April 4th of 2014 and Cunningham had been knocked down twice in the fifth round at the Liacouras Center of Temple University. By the tenth and final round it was Mansour on the canvas with Cunningham taking the decision in a USBA heavyweight title bout.

Besides being a referee in over 1,000 bouts Smoger has officiated in over 200 world title bouts. In August of 2017 he was appointed as the IBA Boxing Officials Committee co-chair.

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Some of the Pet Peeves Boxing Writers are Concerned About

Posted on 08/11/2017

By Ken Hissner

This writer has been writing for approximately 10 years. I sometimes say “the only thing more crooked than boxing is politics”. For example we see commissions that are not the most honest favoring certain people over others. By messing with managerial contracts favoring the managers and one sided hearings are a pair of examples what happens. One for instance in PA was holding a hearing for a boxer who was not allowed to have anyone but an attorney which he had. The manager came in with a non-attorney and was allowed an unlicensed backer to be allowed to listen in on an intercom. Obviously the boxer lost. The Boxing Director ruled in this case.

Pertaining to a referee I always remember Mills Lane when he did the rematch between Holyfield and Tyson. Lane knew Tyson had fouled Holyfield biting his ear and when over to the then Nevada commission head who more or less said “how would you stop a fight of this magnitude for this MINOR infraction?”

I believe that same commission head went to a much more violent sport like MMA after that. Mills returns and tells the fighters to continue and Tyson proceeds knowing he didn’t get penalized for what he did takes it one step or should I say 10 times further and bites off a piece of Holyfield’s ear knowing he is losing and will not be able to overcome Holyfield for victory. Mills had actually gone to the Tyson corner after the first infraction and they seemed to threaten him if he stopped the fight. Mills wasn’t a referee much longer after that fight.
Another example being Nevada who seem to have the most prestigious fights yet when referee Robert Byrd allowed Andre Ward to initiate 46 clinches against Sergey Kovalev and was never deducted “one point” just several warnings. That was in their first fight. All three judges had Ward ahead by a point so if just one point was deducted by Byrd for holding it would have been a draw and Kovalev would have retained his title. I had Kovalev ahead by 5 points based on 8-4 in rounds plus the knockdown. Go to www.youtube.com and see what I mean.

Byrd is without question the slowest referee to react of the Nevada referees. Was he being racist in his actions favoring the black fighter over the white fighter? Why Kovalev’s management or promoter allowed a black referee since Kovalev had the 3 titles and Ward none is beyond me. I suggested once to a manager who had the black fighter against a Spanish fighter to get a neutral person such as a white referee. The fight was great and close and the referee made no difference and their fighter won a decision.

It’s been my experience when I was a matchmaker for a short period of time a ring physician came over prior to the fight and told the referee who by the way now serves as a commissioner to stop the fight if the one fighter in particular “looks” like he is hurt. I told the ring physician “you can’t tell a referee that in advance”. The fight was stopped in the first round without that fighter being cut or knocked down. The promoter had to have a hearing based on too many stoppages on this promoter’s card. The top promoter who had just as many stoppages as this one was also suspended for 30 days.

The commissioner Jimmy Binns, Sr. held that meeting. I was told by the promoter Bob Connelly not to attend. I attended and sat at the table directly across from Binns. When I spoke up and informed Binns that the referee at the table Rudy Battles (now PA Boxing Commissioner) was told by Dr. Davidson to stop the fight if the boxer even looks hurt Binns said “what do you know about boxing?” I replied “maybe you would know something about boxing if you were to come to the weigh-in.” I had my matchmaker’s license revoked for that remark.

When Binns was replaced by Harold McCall he came to me during a boxing event and said “come into my office for I want to reinstate your matchmaker’s license”. I never did go in and never did matchmaking again. It is the hardest position of fights for the match-up may look good on paper but you never know how the fight is going to be.

Pennsylvania had a good secretary on the commission in Frank Walker. He worked behind the desk not running the shows. Now during Binns time he and Walker’s assistant were sent to work out of Harrisburg some 100 miles away instead of Philadelphia where the commission office was. Both Walker and his assistant suffered health problems and were replaced by Binns. Binns put Greg Sirb in charge as Boxing Secretary and he changed his title to Boxing Director. He runs all the events unless two are on the same night while the three commissioner’s sit there never correcting anything he does. When I let it be known in my report the entire press were told by a promoter you’ll never to sit at ringside again the promoter should have the right to where the press sits and not the Boxing Director.

This writer has found infractions on commission members and brought it to the attention of the state without any action being taken or even considered. It’s not what you know but who you know in this business too many times. I will continue to write what I see and not what the promoter or commissioner wants to see.

This writer has been banned from press row by two promoters because they “don‘t like what I write”. Guess what? That hasn’t stopped me from writing up their shows as I see them!” When Philadelphia had back to back shows with 14 bouts and 13 ended it knockouts in a bunch of mismatches this writer questioned it causing one of the promoters say “you should write what you see” while the other pulled my press credentials.

Recently in VA a rarity happened when Lamont White, 0-7, scored a knockout win over Roger Belch 8-0 at Norfolk on May 13th. Why the commission approved of the fight in the first place is strange but the way it turned out was even stranger.
Just thought I would “air out” some of the things writers can be faced with when they are “honest to a fault!”

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Conor McGregor Brings In Hall Of Fame Referee Joe Cortez For Guidance

Posted on 07/23/2017

By: Sean Crose

First things first – I’d like to officially go on record stating that the judges could rob Floyd Mayweather on August 26th, should his fight with Conor McGregor go twelve rounds. McGregor is the more popular of the two combatants that night, and boxing judges have a long, rich and honored history of just love, love, loving the popular guy. So yeah, don’t be too surprised if Conor is awarded the biggest upset win in the entire history of sports simply for being his most awesome self (rather than by, you know, actually doing better in the ring than Mayweather).


Having gotten all that ugliness out of the way, we may as well just try to have as much fun as we can with this one, gang. While it’s hard, if not impossible, to scrub oneself clean of the grime of this charade (in a sense, we’re all like Lady Macbeth at this point), it’s also difficult not to admit that there isn’t at least some entertainment value to this whole nonsense. Yes, the fight is a joke. Yes, people are behaving incomprehensibly -even by today’s standards – by being so eager to pay a fortune to watch this farce. Yes, there’s little chance of McGregor winning fairly (remember what I said about those judges, though). But there’s also a level of silliness here that’s getting hard not to delight in.

Take the fact, for instance, that team McGregor has hired none other that legendary referee Joe Cortez to help the fellas out in camp (Why not the iconic Mills Lane, you may well wonder). Cortez, you see, is going to – wait for it – “teach them the rules of boxing before the fight against Mayweather.” Those are Cortez’ own words, by the way, brought you courtesy of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. I’ll give McGregor this, he’s taking things seriously. There’s nothing, after all, quite like preparing for the biggest fight in history than sitting down and learning the basic freakin’ rules before you step in between the ropes. And who better to teach those rules, really, than Cortez? Here, you see, is the man who is known throughout the sporting world as being “firm but fair.”

In all honesty, though, it’s almost all too easy to laugh without actually pausing to understand what’s going on. McGregor is an MMA fighter, and as such will most likely want to rough Floyd up any way he can so long as that roughing up adheres to the rules of the game. Seen in such a light, the whole thing makes sense. It also makes sense that Cortez is wearing his referee’s outfit throughout McGregor’s sparing sessions in order to give matters an authentic feel. When all is said and done, there’s probably a lot about this whole enormous spectacle that makes sense (as opposed to cents) when viewed through a certain perspective. That doesn’t make any of it appear any less ridiculous, however.

Oh well, at least we’re through watching humanity be debased via those “brilliant” press conferences we all had to endure just over a week ago. Things are truly looking up. RIght?


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Once 48-0 Lee Sala of Donora, PA, Inducted Into PA BHOF!

Posted on 05/25/2017

Once 48-0 Lee Sala of Donora, PA, Inducted Into PA BHOF!
By: Ken Hissner

Donora, PA, home of one of the greatest baseball players in the history of the game was Stan “The Man” Musial who played from 1941 to 1963. He would overshadow another Donora resident who would become a professional boxer in 1946.


In 1944 Donora’s Lee Sala served two years in the US Navy on the battleship Iowa during World War II and would turn professional in the sport of boxing in 1946. He won his first 48 fights taking a 48-0 record into the ring in February of 1949 against Tony DeMicco, 46-24-5, of Schenectady, NY, in Buffalo, whom he defeated in October of 1948, losing this time for the first time by majority decision. Just 13 days later they had a rematch in Pittsburgh, PA, and Sala took a 10 round decision win in the rubber match.

Sala was 61-1, in August of 1950 when he took on deaf mute Gene “Silent” Hairston, 36-6-2, in Scranton, PA, losing a 10 round decision. He won 6 in a row after this then facing Joey DeJohn whom he knocked out in August of 1950 and was 67-2 when in September of 1951 he lost to DeJohn, 67-8-2, of Syracuse by knockout in 2 in Syracuse. Then 4 wins later at 71-3 he would lose in 10 rounds to Billy Kilgore, 21-11-3, of Delan, FL, in May of 1952 in Miami, FL. He would go onto win 3 more when at 74-4 facingthe future middleweight champion in November of 1952 Carl“BoBo” Olson, 53-6, in San Francisco, CA, getting knocked out in 2 rounds. A pair of wins later he would end his career with a pair of losses in September of 1953 and retire with a record of 76-7 with 48 knockouts at the age of 26. Some of his highlight wins had been over Sonny Horne 71-16, Georgie Small 35-4 and in their first meeting Joey DeJohn 61-4-2.
After retiring from boxing Sala and his wife Adeline would move to Tampa, FL. He would become a referee. In December of 2012 at the age of 85 Sala would pass away.

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2016 Olympic Boxing Results: The USA Medals; AIBA sends home Judges & Refs

Posted on 08/18/2016

2016 Olympic Boxing Results: The USA Medals; AIBA sends home Judges & Refs
By: Matthew N. Becher

The Boxing portion of this year’s Olympic Games have been in full swing and slowly coming to an end. The first of the medals have been handed out and The United States has already done better than it has in the last 2 previous games.
​The International Boxing Federation, also known as AIBA, has issued a statement in which it conducted an investigation into fraud and/or corruption, due to the outcome of a few fights which have taken place during the tournament. AIBA stated that they had no conclusive evidence of any wrongdoing, but did dismiss several Judges and referees for performances “not at the level expected”.


​Here is a quick wrap up of who has taken home medals and which final fights are to come. A side note, all boxing weight classes award two bronze medals.

Light Flyweight 46-49kg
Bronze: Nico Hernandez (USA)
​Joahnys Argilagos (CUB)
Silver: Yurbejen Martinez (COL)
Gold: Hasanboy Dusmatov (UZB)

Flyweight 52kg
The semifinals are all set for this weight class to take place tomorrow afternoon, Friday 8/19
Shakhobidin Zoirov (UZB) will take on Yoel Finol (COL) and the winner will face off in the Gold Medal match on Sunday 8/21 against the winner of Misha Aloian (RUS) v. Jianguan HU (CHN)

Bantamweight 56kg
Bronze: Vladimir Nikitin (RUS) (Nikitin pulled out of his match with Shakur Stevenson due to injury)
​Murodjon Akhmadaliev (UZB)
The Gold Medal matchup will be between Robeisy Ramirez of Cuba and Shakur Stevenson of the United States. Stevenson will be attempting to become the first American male to win a Boxing Gold since Andre Ward did so in the 2004 games. Also, according to social media messages revealed yesterday, this will be Stevenson’s final amateur fight, as he has signed on with Floyd Mayweather Jr.s promotional company, The Money Team.

Lightweight 60kg
Bronze: Lazaro Jorge Alvarez (CUB)
​Otgondalai Dorjnyamb (MGL)
Silver: Sofiane Oumiha (FRA)
Gold: Robson Conceicao (BRA) (This was the first Olympic Medal in Boxing for the country of Brazil)

Light Welterweight 64kg
The semifinals will take place in this weight class on Friday 8/19 with Vitaly Dunaytsev (RUS) v. Fazliddin Gaibnazarov (UZB), with the winner taking on either Artem Harutyunyan (GER) or Lorenzo Collazo Sotomayor (AZE). The Gold Medal match will be at 2pm on Sunday, 8/21

Welterweight 69kg
Bronze: Douleymane Diop Cissokho (FRA)
​Mohammed Rabii (MAR)
Silver: Shakhram Giyasov (UZB)
Gold: Daniyar Yeleussinov (KAZ)

Middleweight 75kg
Bronze: Kamran Shakhsuva (AZE)
​Misael Uziel Rodriguez (MEX)
The Gold Medal match will take place this Saturday, 8/20 at 2pm between Arlen Lopez (CUB) and Bektemir Melikuziev (UZB)

Light Heavyweight 81kg
Bronze: Mathieu Albert Bauderlique (FRA)
​Joshua Buatsi (GBR)
Silver: Adilbek Niyazymbet (KAZ)
Gold: Julio Cesar La Cruz (CUB)

Heavyweight 91kg
Bronze: Rustam Tulaganov (UZB)
​Erislandy Savon (CUB)
Silver: Vassiliy Levit (KAZ)
Gold: Evgeny Tishchenko

Super Heavyweight +91kg
The semifinals are set for Tomorrow Friday, 8/19. The first match is between James Yoka (FRA) v. Filip Hrgovic (CRO). That winner will take on the other semi bracket winner between Joe Joyce (GBR) v. Ivan Dychko (KAZ). The gold medal match will take place on Sunday 8/21

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