Training the eye, is the perceptive task of a Referee, which must be constantly and forever refined and honed, because those who have the courage to take responsibility as the third man or woman in the ring, hold the lives of the fighters in their hands.
The learning curve and process is important and Kenny is not shy in borrowing a little to learn. He smiles as he says: “I steel something from all of the Referees and use it to formulate me. If I can grab a little something here and there I will do it.”
Jack describes refereeing as: “A part time job with a full time commitment. I`m focused on doing my job. If you`re doing the work and you`re dedicated, you leave the rest to God. If you`ve not done the work, then you will be exposed. There are moments when you have to use judgment. I treat myself like a fighter. I push everything out of the way in my life in order to prepare, because you have peoples` lives in your hands. “
Jack has five miles of paths around where he lives to keep in shape, while Sparkle says she`s used the lockdown to get in the best shape of her life. Sparkle who started in the wrestling game, never thought of being a boxing Referee until asked. She mentioned the great value of hitting the heavy punch bag to exorcize individual demons. Jack recalls he and his brother would spar socking it out until someone bled or cried. Indicating his interest in becoming involved in boxing he called the Nevada Commission and related his qualifications over the phone! He lived in California?
This is Kenny`s twenty ninth year as a Referee. His interest in Muhammad Ali started everything and he was coached in the basics of being a Referee by the great Richard Steele. He`d initially wanted to be a Judge. When starting out, Jack valued the advice from: “Guys way ahead of me. But it was direct and harsh, suggesting knock off the crap!” As Sparkle agrees: “This is a serious business!”
Staying in excellent shape is essential for a Referee, as it can involve some practical hands on weight lifting: “He aint heavy, he`s my brother,” doesn`t necessarily apply in Boxing. Kenny who refereed the second Fury Vs Wilder encounter says Fury was 271 pounds at the weigh in, but about 280 lbs on fight night. While Wilder was 231 lbs at the weigh in, and over two hundred and forty pounds when the bell rang. He suggests: “Separating those guys wasn`t easy. It was a workout!”
Sparkle who`s five feet six inches tall was asked by a fighter who`s six feet four inches tall, just how she was going to break them from a clinch, to which she robustly replied: “By whatever means necessary. You have to do what you`ve got to do.”
Kenny stresses that the eyes of a Referee are trained to look for things. A fan who`s had a couple of beers can`t come close to what we`re doing. While Jack says it`s fifty times harder than for a Referee nowadays compared to half a century ago. Because there are fifty thousand people with cellphones recording the blow by blow action. He mentioned the Chavez Taylor fight when Richard Steele stopped the action seconds before the final bell…because the one fighter was no longer in a position to defend himself, insisting: “It doesn`t matter what the time was!” Kenny says when a fighter is visibly fading, it`s important for the Referee to go to his/or her corner to advise: “Show me something.” In the Fury Vs Wilder bout two, he did this, but also Deontay`s corner recognized this and themselves stopped the fight. Jack agrees: “We have to give fighters every possible opportunity, but when they don`t have even a puncher`s chance, then it`s time to end the fight.”
The trio of Referees remembers some of the funny moments which still tickle a chuckle. Sparkle remembers that when it`s raining, it can be draining! Raining cats and dogs in Argentina, yet both fighters were determined to pour it on. So soggy scare cards, but spirits not dampened! Jack recalls the team of Andre Ward, steeling the scales in order to delay the same day weigh in of Edwin Rodriguez and them being chased down a corridor by a security man. While Kenny admits that in his early career, he was bustled to different corner after the final bell by a television production team and ended up raising the losing fighter`s arm in victory. And then had to correct it by holding aloft the Victor`s hand.
Everyone`s a winner if the fight is clean and all concerned go home safe at the end of fight night.