NABF vice president Joanna Aguilar opened the general session of the 52nd annual NABF convention, held at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, at 9:00 this morning with introductions of the board of directors as well as a memorial ten-count for those who’ve been lost in the past year. Aguilar then introduced NABF president Duane Ford.
Ford welcomed the delegates and guests to the convention. The first guest speaker Ford introduced was Peter Villegas, Chairman of the California State Athletic Commission.
Peter Villegas, came from corporate America (JP Morgan and Coca-Cola) and now chairs one of the busiest commissions in the world. Villegas pointed out the number of females in attendance at this convention as well as their involvement in the sport of boxing at all levels, cheering the diversity on display. Villegas is on the board of the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, KY. He is spearheading the movement to have Ali commemorated on a U.S. Postage stamp and has asked for help from the boxing community in seeing this endeavor come to fruition.
Ford then called to the lectern, NABF vice president, and WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman. Sulaiman opened with a funny, but true story. This was the first time he ever made a trip and forgot his dress shoes! Sulaiman then got serious and discussed the consequences of making mistakes both in the ring (as a referee) and outside the ring (judges and administrators). At the crux of all this is the safety and welfare of the fighters. Sulaiman stressed the importance of structure, fairness, and cooperation in the relationships between sanctioning organizations, promoters, commissions, and others involved in the sport of boxing.
Accepting change within the sport is something Sulaiman also stressed. The change from 15 to 12 rounds for championship fights back in 1983 was an example of change for the betterment of boxing, but change which was resisted at first. A current example of change that is meeting resistance is the WBC’s introduction of the Bridgerweight class. NABF Bridgerweight champion Alfonso Lopez was in attendance at this convention.
One last issue broached by Sulaiman was the exclusion of boxing from the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles and the irreparable damage this will do to the sport of boxing.
Joanna Aguilar then introduced world-class referee Jack Reiss. Reiss started his professional referee career in 1981 and has since reffed over 2000 professional bouts. For over 90 minutes, Reiss delivered a very detailed, structured talk on the methodologies, theories, and philosophies of the job of a referee and a global approach to implementing these methodologies. He implemented the use of several video clips which illustrated both good and poor examples of refereeing.
After a lunch break, The first speaker was the venerable hall-of-fame ring announcer Jimmy Lennon, Jr., who talked about both his career as well as that of his hall-of-fame father- Jimmy Lennon Sr.
Studying both psychology and education, Lennon, Jr. never looked to follow his famous father inside the ropes. Eventually, he received opportunities on small shows and his new career eventually blossomed into the hall-of-fame career that it is today. During the subsequent Q & A that followed, there were almost as many complimentary statements made about Lennon, Jr. as well as questions asked of him. NABF president Duane Ford explained how Lennon, Jr. has lived up to his nickname “Classy.” Lennon, Jr. had received an offer to announce a show today- the same day as his presence at the NABF convention was scheduled, he turned down the more lucrative offer to honor his promise to appear at this convention!
CSAC Executive Director Andy Foster delivered his talk entitled “What Officials Need To Know.”
Foster’s “Severity Index” figured first and foremost in his method of approving fights in California. Foster also discussed what a ringside physician needs to know, his win/loss algorithm, and a fighter’s weight. The second half of the lecture focused in more careful detail on, “Boxing History Of Downed Fighters.” Foster looked at the evolution and the importance of the knockdown throughout various sets of rules over the last three hundred years: Broughton’s rules, London Prize Ring Rules, Marquis of Queensbury Rules, ABC Rules, and so on.
Once again, social media reared its ugly head as a thorn in the side of boxing commissions and as something from which ring officials should stay away. Ring officials should not talk about their upcoming assignments, criticize fellow ring officials, or post photos of themselves with active boxers.
Next up, the congregation moved into another hall, broke up into five groups, each with a “Facilitator” and discussed various topics. The facilitators and their respective topics were as follows:
- Referee Thomas Taylor – Prefight instructions
- Judge Chris Migliore – Travel experience
- Judge David Sutherland – assignments as ring officials/supervisors
- Judge Steve Morrow – NABF code of ethics
- Judge Tim Cheatham – preparation & routine
Each round table group lasted ten minutes after which the facilitators would move on to the next group until the cycle was complete. At this time, a panel of Andy Foster, Duane Ford, and Mauricio Sulaiman answered questions that were previously culled from the round table groups. A raffle was then held, choosing 5 tickets from a basket, bestowing three $25 gift cards and two $50 gift cards to the lucky winners.
The evening is free tonight for conventioneers, with a full day scheduled for tomorrow.
Source: fightnews.com Photos Courtesy of Robert Newman