Justice Has Been served! From keeping people safe in the streets to professionals boxers safe in the ring. Boxing referees have an important and decisive role. Not only they have the tough decisions to make, ensuring the fair result in the end of the bout but also they have to make sure that the athletes are safe at all times. A sport that sometimes can be dangerous specially when there are world-titles on the line. Ricky Gonzalez started refereeing in the amateurs, then progressing to fight cards that feature world class boxers like Vasiliy Lomachenko, Canelo Alvarez, Terence Crawford, among others. We had the opportunity to speak to him about his story and what it takes to be a referee.
How did it all start, this adventure of becoming a boxing referee? I was introduced to Boxing by my late father (RIP) Juan Gonzalez JR. He was an avid fan. As a very young boy I would watch ABC Sports on free TV with the likes of Ali, Leonard, Duran, Hagler and Mancini to name a few. He saw my interest and bought a Heavy Bag that he hung up in the garage for me and my brothers. At the age of 15 I started going to a Boxing gym in Queens, New York for about 3 years. I sparred but never competed in the amateurs. At the age of 20 I became a New York City Police Officer in 1984. In the 90.s I got married and my wife at the time had a cousin who was doing amateur boxing. I would go with him to the gym and one day I was asked to participate as an official for USA Boxing. I accepted and did the amateurs as an Official for about 7 years. When I retired from the NYPD in 2004 I turned Pro as a Referee
What do you consider to be the main values for a good referee? The main values to be a good Referee is to know the rules. Constantly go over the worse things that can happen in that ring and consult a fellow ref to determine the best course of action. Also You must attend annual seminars where they go over the rules as well as live scenarios so you will understand what your responsibility is. Also very important to remain humble and stay in shape.
What are the challenges you face when working on the main card fight for example? The challenges that can arise working the main event are you physically and mentally ready for that assignment. If you take your sport seriously you should be ready physically all year round. Mentally we all go through ups and down but you need to leave any negativity outside the venue.
Regarding athletes, do you think they should wear head protections and bigger gloves? Concerning headgear and bigger gloves…I believe it should stay as is. Many times when there is an injury to a boxer or the death of a boxer the damage has been done during training. No one knows if that boxer was knocked out in sparring and was allowed to spar again the next day. Only the fighters camp knows. This is why Seminars are also very important for an official to attend because there are doctors who give us training on what to look for in regards to concussions.
Boxing is once again becoming more popular, specially here in Europe. What do you think the evolution of boxing rules are so far and where are we going? I think its great that Boxing is so big in Europe. Its more popular Worldwide than its ever been. I believe that as strong and popular the sport is it will be even bigger once the fans are allowed back to the venues. People are truly missing boxing.
I want to become a referee! What do I need to do? The best way and the correct way in becoming a Pro Referee is to join your local amateur boxing program. There you will gain valuable insight and experience in the art of boxing.
Photos Courtesy: Facebook Account Ricky G.