By: Ken Hissner
New Jersey’s Tommy Kaczmarek authored “You Be the Boxing Judge” which would later come out on DVD. He entered the New Jersey Boxing HOF in 1994 per Henry Hascup, their President. He was elected to Elizabeth Athletic Hall of Fame in 2002. Kaczmarek would go onto judge fights until 2009 when John Duddy was upset by Billy Lyell. This was a fight I covered and agreed with Kaczmarek and another judge that Lyell had upset the then 26-0 Duddy in a split decision win in Newark, NJ. In 2010 he received the Rocky Marciano/American Association for the Improvement of Boxing “Ring Officials Award”.
The following e-mail was sent from Jose Sulaiman, Ch. President of the WBC:
Tom Kaczmarek and his passing through the WBC has been one of the greatest things which ever happened to our organization and to boxing as a whole.
Many years ago I took notice of Tom Kaczmarek as a judge during a fight in NJ, when I saw his perfect scoring in a controversial fight. I was interested in checking his next fights. They were also perfectly scored considering the subjectiveness of boxing as a whole. I decided then to come close to Tom and invited him to chair the newly created Ring Officials Committee of the World Boxing Council.
Tom Kaczmarek became not only one of the best judges that I have ever known but also an unpretentious excellent administrator of those who have as their responsibility the scoring of matches and having under their wings the justice of the sport of our love.
Tom Kaczmarek became a dear friend and one I have come to admire and respect as a ring official who has left an indelible of his passing through life.
Jose Sulaiman Ch.
The following year in 2010 the WBC made Kaczmarek a Chairman of the Ring Officials Review Committee. He had worked over 2000 bouts including 110 world title fights and 86 regional championships in the US, Mexico, Europe, Asia and Australia.
“Tommy Kaye was truly an outstanding boxing judge. He literally wrote the book on judging professional boxing. He conducted clinics and seminars regarding Judging around the World on behalf of the WBC. Great judge – great guy,” said Steve Smoger. (Top referee)
Kaczmarek worked in 10 US states and 13 countries including the UK, Denmark, Thailand, Mexico, France, Canada, Philippines, Japan, Italy, Hungary, South Korea, Spain and Australia. He also judged a Commonwealth (British Empire) heavyweight title bout between Lennox Lewis and Donovan Ruddock which was also a WBC eliminator bout. In 2003 he judged Lennox Lewis vs Vitali Klitschko for the WBC heavyweight title.
“I started boxing as an amateur in 1947 going 8-1 before turning professional the same year and compiling an 11-5-3 record from 1947-49 before retiring at age 20. After a modest career in the ring it lead to 66 years of involvement in boxing in different capacities, including a long career as a professional boxing judge and a moderator of training seminars for judges before retiring in 2010,” said Kaczmarek.
“After his boxing career he became one of the most respected and knowledgeable boxing judges in the sport,” said Henry Hascup. (NJ HOF President)
Kaczmarek was appointed as a Commissioner on the New Jersey Violent Crimes Compensation Board by Govenor Byrne and worked for over 17 years before retiring in 1991. He conducted seminars in both CT and NJ as well as training seminars for the WBC judges from Africa and Europe. He was elected Councilman in Clark, NJ from 1965-68. Then elected Mayor from 1969-72. In 1970 as Mayor he had the city sponsor and pay for a fully equipped boxing gym. Elected Union County Freeholder Commissioner from 1972-74.
Kaczmarek is still going strong as he approaches his 85th birthday on August 10th. He has been married to Agnes Donovan 59 years having 3 children, Nancy, Tom and Mary Jean, 8 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild. He served in the Army as a 2nd Lt. (Armor) from 1951-53.
“Tom was one of my mentors when I first started. He took me under his wing and what I learned from him prepared me for my future as a boxing judge. He is one of the finest boxing judges ever, and his book and DVD on scoring became the go to guide world wide. I am blessed to have worked with him and attend his seminars both with the World Boxing Council and locally. I am grateful and honored beyond words,” said Julie Lederman.
As author of “YOU BE THE BOXING JUDGE” it was for judging professional boxing for the TV boxing fan. International circulation with Japanese version published in Japan. The book explains the strategies and mind-sets needed to score boxing matches using the 10 Point Must System. In 2002 a DVD-VHS version of the book was produced and is enjoying international distribution. The DVD format provides 2 1/2 hours of training in the art of judging professional boxing matches. Book and DVD serves as the basis for seminar agendas. You can purchase the book at the You Be The Boxing Judge! website
Some of the highlight bouts Tommy K worked were the first Super Middleweight Title fight for the IBF in a bout featuring Murray Sutherland and Ernie Singletary in Atlantic City, NJ, in March of 1984. In February of 1989 in Atlantic City the Iran Barkley and Roberto Duran bout for the WBC Middleweight title. Also that year he judged the Tommy Hearns – Ray Leonard II bout in Las Vegas, NV. He had Leonard ahead by 113-112. In April of 1991 Kaczmarek judged the Evander Holyfield – George Foreman title fight in Atlantic City. In 2007 he judged the Oscar De La Hoya – Floyd Mayweather bout in Las Vegas. He judged the Roy Jones, Jr. – Felix Trinidad bout in MSG, NY. These are just a few of the major bouts judged by Tommy K.
“Tommy Kaczmarek was not only one of the finest Boxing judges I ever worked with in my entire life, he was the finest person in all of boxing during his days in the sport. Tommy was a gentleman from the word go. He was always a pleasure to be around, was kind and caring. He has nothing but Hall of Fame qualities, and he should be enshrined in Canastota. He was a great judge and every fight he worked he did a wonderful job. I am very proud to be a friend of Tom Kaczmarek,” said Harold Lederman.
Through boxing judge Joe Pasquale I was able to do a Q&A with Kaczmarek. I have to say “it was my pleasure talking to such a knowledgeable person of the game”. He is a person you only wish you had met long before this story.
KEN HISSNER: I have seen you from the bleachers and from ringside and finally get to talk to you. Is it true you taught Harold Lederman all he knew about judging (kidding)?
TOMMY K: Ha-Ha! Funny thing is I never judged in the amateurs. The first professional card I worked as a trainee Harold was working the show. If memory serves me right we both scored fights the same. Harold’s scoring is close to perfection and he has unbelievable pressure on him (HBO). Harold is truly the Icon amongst boxing judges.
KEN HISSNER: What are some of the key points to judging a fight?
TOMMY K: Concentration, focus and keep a running score. A running score does away with a boxer trying to “steal a round” in the last 10 seconds.
KEN HISSNER: You have judged all over the world and Japan is probably the one you did the most title bouts in a foreign country. Was it one of your favorites and if yes why?
TOMMY K: Yes. It’s a different world in Japan. They have a great deal of respect for fighters, officials and promoters.
KEN HISSNER: You did the Hearns-Leonard II bout giving the bout to Leonard. I had it even. It was nothing like the first fight they had. They were much older this time. Did you see it that way?
TOMMY K: Even though Ray was down twice he was not hurt. On the other hand he had Tommy hurt in several rounds without scoring a knockdown.
KEN HISSNER: At 84 and approaching your birthday in August what’s changed in boxing the most since when you first started judging?
TOMMY K: Back in the day there sometimes were 2 fights a night and just about every night a fight across NJ and NY. There are too few shows today. TV took over and eliminated a lot of live fights. In the past there were so many more boxers and shows.
KEN HISSNER: How has the home crowd affected you in foreign places?
TOMMY K: It shouldn’t effect a good judge. Calling a fight against a hometown fighter will bring the booing. I remember a story of a venue where the judges were carrying umbrellas to ringside. I was told if the fans didn’t like the decision they threw coins at them.
KEN HISSNER: Have you ever had or felt you had been approached to “favor” one fighter over another?
TOMMY K: Never. There are trainers who try to influence you by doing a lot of yelling in favor of what their fighters may have done if the referee lets the corner continue to get away with it.
KEN HISSNER: You have officiated and boxed in Philadelphia. Anything stand out?
TOMMY K: I fought in Philadelphia at the Cambria A.C. which was known as the “bucket of blood”. They had fights almost every Tuesday night and were sold out. When I went to go to the dressing room there was a corridor with a long bench as your dressing room.
KEN HISSNER: You have been a member of the WBC for several decades, and most of the championship fights that you judged were sanctioned by the WBC. What are your thoughts on the WBC?
TOMMY K: Representing the WBC as a judge has given me the opportunity to meet some of the finest people on this planet, see some of the all-time great fights in locations around the world, see displays of courage only professional boxers can provide. At the same time, I’ve had the privilege to play an active roll in the sport I love. Above all my association with President Jose Sulaiman and the WBC family has had an irreplaceable effect on my life for which I will be forever grateful.
KEN HISSNER: I want to thank you for taking the time for this interview. I feel like I know Tommy K though I have yet to meet you. Is there anything you would like to say in signing off?
TOMMY K: Boxing is a great Sport. It needs the support of the media in a positive way. Ken, you do a great job because you understand the sport and you know what’s going on in the ring. Boxing needs writers to report on the fight game unselfishly and fairly. It helps if the writer has a love for boxing as you do.