Your father introduced you to boxing, right?
He was a pretty decent amateur fighter, so he always loved the sport. Ever since I can remember, he had me in and around the ring. Even when I didn’t participate, I enjoyed watching it.
So how did you go from being a kid interested in boxing to getting involved with Golden Gloves?
We had a deputy chief on the department, and he was involved with the Golden Gloves, so he asked me to help judge. I did that for a few years, and then the same deputy chief introduced me to the state boxing commissioner, who had observed what I was doing in the amateurs. So I turned professional as a judge. A few years later, the same boxing commissioner said, “Hey, would you be interested in doing some refereeing also?”
How do you prepare for something like that?
I said, “You know, I don’t really have any experience.” His response was, “Just go do me a favor. Go out to the local boxing gyms while the guys are sparring. Just step in the ring, just to get a feel for it. After you’ve done it five or six times, give me a call back.” So, I did that. “Hey, listen. I did what you asked me to do. I’ve done it six times now. I’m still not very comfortable.” He said, “Well, listen, I’ve got you workin’ a fight on Saturday night, so you need to be there.”
What do you remember about when you stepped in the first time?
When I judged, I felt really comfortable doing it. Refereeing is a little bit more of an uneasy feeling because it’s too easy to get somebody hurt. As a judge, you judge their performance. As a referee, you’re in there for their safety. The big fear for me is to get somebody hurt because I didn’t react fast enough.
How does that compare to police work?
The basic premise of police work is that you’re protecting the community, so in a lot of ways, refereeing and being a police officer are similar in that sense. You’re there for the good of the people involved, and you’re there as a protector.
You refereed an Evander Holyfield fight. What was that like?
I can name a few boxing names that boxing folks would know and go, “Wow! You worked that fight.” But a lot of non-boxing fans recognize a name like Evander Holyfield. So that was a big thrill for me. Before the fight, you talk to the individual fighter about following the rules and all that, so meeting him and talking to him was like, “Wow. This is a future Hall of Famer, and I’m getting ready to step in the ring, be the third person in the ring with this guy.”
Who was missing part of an ear.
Yes, exactly. He’d already been through the Tyson incident. It was pretty interesting.
How do your fellow officers view your side job?
For the longest time, a lot of them had no idea. A couple of occasions, I remember working fights that were televised, and I’d have that curious look from some guys who would be like, “Hey, were you in El Paso last weekend?”
Have your boxing skills ever come in handy on the force?
Well, not on the force, per se. My actual policing skills came into play at a match that I refereed a few years ago, where one fighter actually head-butted another fighter and knocked him out, and then, while the guy was out, still tried to come after him to hit him some more. I had to actually physically take this guy down. It was a crazy scene.