Richard Steele (referee)

Richard Steele (born 1944) is a former member of the United States Marine Corps and famous boxing referee. Steele was a teammate of future world Heavyweight champion Ken Norton in the Marines. He began his career as an amateur boxer while with the Marines, compiling a record of 12 wins and 3 losses before launching a professional career. He had 16 wins and 4 defeats as a professional fighter.

Steele began referring fights in the 1970s, and he went on to referee in 167 world title fights around the world. In 1983, he referred his first major fight, when Aaron Pryor knocked out Alexis Arguello in ten rounds in their rematch. Other fights Steele refereed included Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns, Julio Cesar Chavez vs. Meldrick Taylor I, and the fight where Sugar Ray Leonard made his comeback after a three year lay-off in 1987 to beat Hagler.

Chavez vs. Taylor controversy

Steele was sometimes involved in controversy, but none bigger than the one that happened after Chavez-Taylor I. With Taylor ahead on the scorecards and seconds away from inflicting Chavez his first defeat, he was dropped by a Chavez punch to the chin. He got up on the five count, but Steele decided to stop the fight with two seconds left in the last round, Taylor was clearly shaken and did not respond when Steele asked Taylor, "Are you ok? You ok?" This defeat affected Taylor emotionally very much, and it proved to be the beginning of the end as a professional boxer for him. Many fans that saw the fight still argue as to whether the fight should have been stopped or not, considering the very short time left in the bout. Steele defended himself by declaring he just tried to protect Taylor from more punishment and did not know how much time was left in the fight, claiming "no fight is worth a man's life". Also, what many forget is that Taylor had taken a severe battering during the fight. Doctor Flip Hopansky of the Nevada State Athletic Commission examined the young fighter and said Taylor had a facial fracture and was urinating pure blood and his face was grotesquely swollen. It was estimated that Taylor had swallowed approximately two pints of blood due during the course of the bout.

Outside of boxing

Outside the boxing rings, Steele has made a name for himself as a community conscious person, opening a gym, the Richard Steele Boxing Center in Las Vegas, and helping out with Salvation Army charities. In 1999, he was given an award by South African president Nelson Mandela for refusing to referee fights in South Africa while the Apartheid laws were still in use there.


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