This writer recently interviewed boxing referee Steve “Double SS” Smoger. I’ve written several articles on him and in looking back at the most recent interview the following will be some of what I’ve learned about the man and being able to call him “my friend” since then.
I can still remember standing with manager Cameron Dunkin watching Smoger in the ring at an event in Atlantic City, NJ. Dunkin had this to say about him “Smoger is every manager’s favorite referee. He’s never too quick to stop a fight yet doesn’t get anyone hurt.”
Smoger finally got his overdue induction in 2015 to the International Boxing Hall of Fame. He is the most world traveled referee who happens to be one of the most well liked officials in the game by man. He’s known to go out of his way to greet not only boxing people but how many times have I seen fans come up to him asking to have their picture taken with him is countless? He is always obliging!
Here are some people wishing Smoger well with his induction.
JULIE LEDERMAN, still today a top working boxing judge: Steve Smoger is one of the finest referees to ever step inside the ring. He has been a great role model, mentor and friend, and I am fortunate to have worked with him for over twenty years. He has a true passion for the sport, the fighters and the fans. He is truly the people’s ref.
HAROLD LEDERMAN, the late HBO Boxing judge and father of Julie: Smoger has been one of the top referees in the world for over a decade. He is certainly worthy of his upcoming induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Steve accepts assignments all over the world and is known for his very fair handling of all bouts. He is always looking for the safety of the fighter, and has been known as a referee who knows exactly when to stop a fight. It has been a great honor for me to work with my friend Steve and I am overjoyed that he is finally being recognized by the Hall of Fame.
J RUSSELL PELTZ, an inductee of the International Boxing Hall of Fame as a promoter & matchmaker: The best of his generation!
JOEY EYE, Cut Man, promoter and PAB HOF inductee: My man double S! To me he is bar none, the best referee in the biz! He’s my kind of referee. He lets guys fight. Even when a fighter is in trouble, Steve lets him try and fight his way out. In my experiences he has let me as a cut man do my job and give me a chance to work and stop the cut on the guy, no matter how bad the cut is. I know he likes to see a fighter end on his feet, not on his stool. I know that also when I am promoting a show that Steve is assigned to it, that it will be a good night. Steve is not just a good referee but a great guy as well. I am proud to be able to call him my friend as well as proud to have worked in the same ring as double S!
STEVE WEISFELD, One of the top boxing judge today: It’s a great honor for a great referee. To say that Steve Smoger has done a lot of big fights is an understatement. It’s always a pleasure to work with him. One of my personal favorites – is Toney-Jirov. I look forward to being at his induction in Canastota next year.
JOHN DI SANTO, Writer for Fight News and Editor for Philly Boxing History: Steve is one of the best referees of this era. He has a reputation for letting the fighters settle things and not jumping the gun. This is a rarity these days. Some have criticized his style, but not me. He is always in control. If more referees were like Smoger, fights would be better and there would be less controversy. I think his induction in the 2015 International Boxing Hall of Fame class is well deserved. In addition to all of this, Steve is one of the nicest guys in the sport. So I’m happy to see him honored.
CHEE: Webmaster for Doghouse Boxing and MAX Boxing: Smoger truly stands for everything that is right with boxing.
When he is the third man in the ring, the boxers and the fans know they are getting the best of the best with Smoger. He is always and first most a class-act. We consider him a great friend of Doghouse and anytime our writers have wanted to speak with him, he has always accommodated us and has never ignored the readers at Doghouse. (That’s Love!) A better ref with more integrity would be impossible to find. There are plenty of great Refs, but Smoger stands alone at the top.
JEFF JOWETT, Writer for Seconds Out and Ring Magazine correspondent: First of all he’s “Sextriple S”. Sweet, Super smooth, Strawberry Steve’ Smoger. Two S’s are not enough. He’s a good referee for the fans, he doesn’t have a hair trigger. He protects the fighters not himself.
GEORGE HANSON, Writer for ‘The Mouthpiece’: When the ‘Mount Rushmore for Referees’ is created there will be a sculpture of Steve Smoger carved into the granite face of the mountain smiling at us. He is simply one of the greatest referees!
TOMMY KACZMAREK, Boxing Judge and Author: Congratulations and best wishes upon your election into the IBHOF. It’s a recognition by your peers of your career as a top referee and your many contributions to the spot of professional boxing.
HENRY HASCUP, President of the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame and Ring Announcer: He is not only a Hall of Fame inside the ring as a referee but he also is one outside the ring as well. He is a very busy man. But if he is around the area, he will attend boxing functions including several Eulogies I have given. This really means a lot to the families. He is a really Class Act!
ROY FOREMAN: Manger, Promoter and Radio Show Host: Steve is one of the most knowledgeable and in my opinion more caring referees in boxing. He lets the boxer push his limit.
BENJY ESTEVES, JR, one of the top referee’s today: I’m very proud of him. It’s a well-deserved honor. He has helped so many others. Double S is one of my fellow brothers. We have a mutual respect whether he has the main event or I do. He is a wonderful family man. I am always there for him.
BRUCE TRAMPLER, International Boxing Hall of fame inductee, Matchmaker with Top Rank Boxing: Smoger is a Hall of Fame referee. He is one of those guys who can referee for us anytime. If a sanctioning body proposes SS, its fine with us.
ED LEVINE, International Boxing Organization President: Steve Smoger has always been one of the referees I can rely on one I needed one of the very best.
DWIGHT QAWI, Former WBC light heavyweight and WBA cruiserweight champion inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2004: He’s the greatest referee of all time. He moves and always is attentive. He made me feel safe in the ring when I was fighting and he was working.
BOZY ENNIS, Philadelphia’s best Teacher-trainer today: He is one of the best referees ever. He’s fair, and when it’s time to fight he lets you fight inside unlike most referees who break you too fast!
BOBBY GOODMAN, Public Relations and Matchmaker for Madison Square Garden and Don King Promotions: Steve Smoger is not only one of the world’s top referees, but he’s also one of the sports nicest people as well. He’s earned his place in the International Boxing Hall of Fame and I’m proud to call him a friend.
In 2011 I was contacted by Eurosport the leading sports channel in Europe and was invited to work as a referee for their boxing tournament program called BIGGER BETTER. From 2011 to 2017 I did 27 shows throughout Europe and it was a tremendous experience. Now I’m working with the International Boxing Association once a month in such places as Rhode Island, Boston, West Virginia, Canada, Bermuda and it’s still exciting and it keeps me active.
“I got inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, New Jersey Hall of Fame and Pennsylvania Hall of Fame and we’ve had a great run. I was the eleventh referee to be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. I still feel I can do it all for 36 minutes (championship rounds).”
I asked Smoger the following questions:
KH: Who was your favorite ref?
KH: Have you disqualified many boxers?
SS: Very, very little and not a point taker. My philosophy is let the fighter get out of the fight.
KH: Where is it easier to work the US or Europe?
SS: Sometimes in Europe doctors overstep their bounds.
KH: What was one of you funniest or scariest events?
SS: I’ve been truly blessed. The worst was when the Rahman group started throwing chairs and one hit me. Two physicians treated me.
KH: How do you compare todays boxing to when you first got into it?
SS: I was blessed to work at the best time in NJ in the early ip’s. In 1983 I worked two to three times a week either at the Tropicana, doing Steve Traitz’s shows, Stallone’s Tiger Eye, working at the Playboy Casino. Now ESPN+ and the BBC remind me of those times. Boxing today is flourishing like in Saudi Arabia. The quantity is there today. “Jersey” Joe Walcott got me started when he was NJ commissioner and working with Bob Lee and Roy “Chief” Johnson in NJ was great.
“Don’t cry for me Argentina – I’m working!”