USA Weightlifting Features Longtime Referee Jac...

Longtime Referee Jack Hughes Passes Away

By Kevin Farley | Feb. 25, 2017, 11:22 a.m. (ET)

Jack Hughes at the 2004 Olympic Team Trials showing off his National Champion ring

 The sport of Weightlifting lost a legendary referee this week.


Jack Hughes passed away at the age of 96. 

Hughes, the 1953 National Champion, was also very successful in Powerlifting, holding numerous national masters records.

However, he will be most remembered in our sport as a Referee. He served our sport at countless national and international events over several decades. He, along with Rudy Sablo, served as USA Weightlifting’s Technical Committee, giving clinics and administering referee exams at National events. 

“His integrity, his competence, and his fidelity to our sport set an inspiring example for those of us fortunate enough to have been mentored by him,” Artie Drechsler told USA Weightlifting. 


Hughes presented medals in the +105kg weight category at the 2007 National Championships 

Hughes’ incredible work ethic was always on full display at National events. He would weigh-in every athlete at every national competition, and would only allow himself to watch the meet once that task is done. His position? Lead referee in the +105kg session.

“Jack was the one who tested me when I got my national referee certification in 1975 and again when I became a Category 1 in 1981,” Drechsler said. “He gave me the clinic that my wife Joanne took to become a national referee in 1987.”

Hughes took pride in driving to virtually every national meet until the late 2000s, sleeping in the back of his truck along the way. 

A native of Akron, Ohio, Hughes lived in Los Angeles and had planned to watch the 2017 IWF World Championships in Anaheim, California later this year. 

“I spoke to Jack only last week and we made a date to meet at Worlds,” Drechsler said. “Sadly, that will never happen. He will be deeply missed by all who knew him.”