USA Boxing




Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this article are of the author’s and do not necessarily represent those of USA Boxing.


I didn’t know what to expect when I was asked to serve on the R/J Commission back in November of 2016.  What I did know was there was an officiating crisis in amateur boxing and fixing it was critical to the success of our sport.  Boxers and coaches deserve better decisions.

The R/J Commission is tasked with educating all USA Boxing officials.  There are more than 10 thousand officials and over 50 LBC Chiefs of Officials across the country.

When we began in November of 2016 there had been another round of rules changes through USA Boxing and AIBA, the International Boxing Association.  We were in the process of developing a new national rulebook with AIBA approval.  In addition to many rules changes, scoring had recently gone from counting punches to a 10-point must system and the scoring criteria had changed.  Many officials and coaches across the country had not been educated on the changes and most were frustrated with what seemed to be ongoing changes in the rules.

Under the leadership of the R/J Commission Chair, Shawn Reese the commission began to work on providing more resources for education including officials manuals, infographics, and training videos.  We began to work on ways to evaluate judges and referees and hold them accountable for performance.  We knew there had to be consistency in training so boxers and coaches would have the same experience whether they were at a local smoker or at a national tournament.  With over 50 LBC Chiefs of Officials with varying resources available to them this would be a challenge.

I believe we have made progress toward our goal.  There is an updated national rulebook, a manual for judges and referees, and a manual for COO’s.  There are various other training materials including clinics which are standardized with teaching guides to create consistency.  These clinics take about twice as long as prior clinics to complete.  There are new procedures in place to rank officials nationally so there is competition among officials to be better. We have updated tests to reflect rules changes and be more challenging.  For officials to be successful they will have to know the rulebook.   I’m not sure how far along we are in accomplishing our goal but we realize we are not finished and will continue to work hard.

I have had a wonderful experience with the R/J Commission.  They are great boxing people, like all boxing people.  I expected that.  What I didn’t expect was the size of the job in front of us.  Recently our Chairman said that if officiating is lacking it is the commission’s responsibility and we have failed.  I think this is a healthy attitude and most officials across the country share it.  I want boxers and coaches to know that we are working hard to deliver better officiating.

Chris Walden.