BOXING judges and referees play vital roles in the scoring and handling of fights respectively. Poor judges and refs have sometimes times given boxing a black eye due to dubious or controversial decisions often sparking outcries from boxers, fans and the general public.
This week’s piece is inspired by a post from an inquiry I made with Zambia Boxing Federation (ZBF) General Secretary Bright Chomba. Specifically I wanted to have comprehensive information on the training of judges and referees against a backdrop of two officials who attended courses in Sudan and Zimbabwe recently.
It’s appropriate to mention here that a boxing judge can double as the third man in the ring better known as a referee. These roles cannot, however, be played simultaneously.
Judges and referees must always be on top of their game by being alert at all times as a bout progresses. If a referee goes to “sleep” for instance, you can imagine how boxers would escape punishment for rabbit punches (blows to the back of the head), punches below the belt, elbowing and excessive holding, which would make boxing ugly to watch.
It is precisely to forestall any and all of these “misdemeanours” from happening that judges and referees must be exposed to training, to master the basic rudiments of their trade if they are to make the cut.
In response to my query, Chomba said the two officials who were sent to Sudan and Zimbabwe respectively are the only Zambians at present with a Star-1 qualification for referees and judges in aamateurboxing. The highest level is Star-3.
“Our plan is to start training those with National Level qualifications to Star-1 and then those with Star-1 to upgrade to Star-2,” he said.
This would take some time because of lack of resources. The one who went to Sudan was sponsored by his own employer, and the other one who went to Zimbabwe was sponsoredby his workmates and his family.
“The federation facilitated their places and official communication and authentication.The challenge is that when arranging for these trainings, you need to have adequate resources. As a federation, we want to plan for these trainings for all the four years of our tenure,” Chomba said.
Chomba attached analysis sheets showing the current status of the referees and judges and coaches and said the Federation would be drawing its trainers from this list to meet the national and provincial needs.
Looking at the table, the picture doesn’t look good. At national level, that is Copperbelt, Central, Southern and Lusaka provinces, ZBF needs a combined total of 45 officials, but there are only 10 referees/judges in reality.
The deficit needs filling because this means clearly the federation is operating below acceptable standards, Chomba said in addition “we have to train a lot of officials.”
The federation would use its four-year term in office to try and achieve this goal, despite the financial challenges Chomba said. With controversial fight decisions almost every other week in professional boxing, which is not peculiar to the pros, ZBF’s plan to upgrade the bulk of its officials to level three in four years cannot be stressed too often. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org 0966755574/0953744074