Legendary Referee Carlos Padilla Jr was recently inducted into the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame, in Las Vegas…where else?
Pepe Sulaiman talked with Carlos about his life and times, which started with him being an actor in starring and co-starring parts, and then a different role, becoming a Boxing Referee following the tradition of his father and uncle who`d been involved in the 1932 and 1936 Olympics, and going on to be the third man in the ring a remarkable three hundred and eighty-one times from 1963-2000! Ever alert with a wry, crackling sense of humour, Carlos who is originally from the Philippines but made his home in the United States many years ago, has refereed some of the greatest fights of all time. The most famous of which was the Thrilla in Manila in 1975. The third and final epic between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. Carlos says Ali was such a good talker, a crowd pleaser and was involved in so many great fights. That third with Joe was so memorable.
By the time Carlos came to the United States, he was already a very experienced Referee and he says he didn`t get nervous. He met Don Jose Sulaiman in Los Angeles and the two instantly liked each other. Carlos says Don Jose brought about historic changes for safety involving reducing championship bouts from fifteen to twelve rounds and introducing the fourth rope, which prevented so many serious head injuries. He was assigned to some historic fights. He recalls with fondness the great fight between Sugar Ray Leonard and Wilfredo Benitez which he stopped with only six seconds to go in the fifteenth and final round, with Ray winning the WBC welterweight title after a fabulous fight. The famous stare down before the beginning and the hug punctuated with dazzling smiles at the end.
With a chuckle, he recalls the epic dust between tall Nedal “Skinny” Hussein and Manny Pacquiao in the Philippines, when Manny was knocked down hard in the fourth. Carlos recalls he might have prolonged the count a bit, and Manny clinched Nedel for dear life. Then a clash of heads, which he saw as a punch and eventually it was stopped by the Ring Doctor in the tenth, much to the chagrin of Nedal`s trainer Jeff Fenech. Carlos remembers: “Jeff told me, I`ll see you in Mexico at the Convention…and I thought, you go ahead!”
Carlos is convinced that at some time or other he`s been the epicentre of jealousy. He said: “It`s not good to be good, because others will envy you.” He is very proud to have been the only Referee inducted into the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame with three years combined into one ceremony, due to pandemic. Carlos is eighty-eight and still going strong!
Enjoy the full interview. It´s a classic crammed with gems and nuggets.