August 3, 1996 in Sports

Boxing Vet Quits, Rips Associates Many Fighters Are Victims Of ‘Gross Incompentence’

By The Spokesman-Review
 

It’s one thing that American boxers are enraged over the judging at the Olympic Games. But the sport took another turn for the weird Friday when a veteran referee and judge resigned to protest the “gross incompetence” of the men he works with.

Bill Waeckerle, who has refereed international bouts for 15 years, submitted his letter of resignation to amateur boxing’s world governing body, in the wake of a controversial decision that cost Floyd Mayweather of the U.S. a chance at a gold medal.

“I refuse to be part of an organization that continues to conduct its officiating in this manner,” Waeckerle’s letter ended.

Mayweather lost 10-9 to Bulgaria’s Serafim Todorov in the featherweight semifinals, a decision bitterly protested by the U.S. team, which feels the computer scoring system operated by five judges has jobbed them on several occasions during the Games.

In fact, only one American - light middleweight David Reid - has a shot at gold. Favored light-heavyweight Antonio Tarver was upset Friday, badly outpointed in the third round and apparently shorted of points in the second.

Waeckerle, however, said his dismay wasn’t simply homerism.

“This affects all the boxers in the tournament,” said Waeckerle, who was the lone U.S. judge in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. “These young men have put in years to get to this moment, and many of them are becoming the victims of incompentence.”

U.S. boxing coach Al Mitchell feels the problems have impacted his team disproportionately.

“They don’t trust the scoring anymore,” he said, “and so they’re trying to go for knockouts. That’s the only way I feel comfortable, too, but that’s not supposed to be amateur boxing.”

Computer scoring was supposed to reform the judging problems that plagued boxing at the Seoul Olympics in 1988 - the most egregious being the decision that cost Roy Jones a gold medal.

But though it’s a computer tallying the points, it’s still human beings awarding them.

“The (computer) system is good - it can analyze everything a judge does,” said Waeckerle, from Rapid City, S.D. “Everytime he pushes a button, you can compare it to the videotape and absolutely without doubt tell who is competent and who is not. They’ve had the system for years, and yet they still fail to deal with the officials in a one-on-one way.

“I’m not the best judge or referee in the world, but I consider myself accurate. I’ve had two decisions here where I was on the short end. If you went back and got those tapes, there’s no question in my mind I had the right boxer but he did not win.”

He didn’t work the Todorov-Mayweather bout, but was irate, calling it “the blatant example of incompetent officiating.

“The referee cautioned the Bulgarian boxer at least five times for slapping without a warning (automatic deduction of a point) and even worse … the judges were counting them as scoring blows.”

Even worse, the referee raised Mayweather’s hand as the victor. , DataTimes


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