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'Protect yourself at all times'

There is no denying that boxing is a dangerous sport.

That when a referee tells the boxers before the beginning of the fight to “protect yourself at all times”, he’s actually telling them to be alert at all times and never let their guards down.

From that moment on, the boxers entrust their lives to the referee. While the boxers are there to punch their way to victory, the referee should be on top of the situation to protect them from life-threatening danger.

The referee should be the man in charge of the action. The man on top of the situation at all times in the fight.

International referee Danrex Tapdasan, speaking before his colleagues during a general assembly meeting, said that foremost of the traits that a referee should have is “he should be able to assert his authority in the ring.”

“Our most primordial concern is the safety of the fighters. We should be able to enforce the rules and that the fight should be done in the most fair and orderly manner,” shared Tapdasan, who is a lawyer by profession.

APPBRO members with GAB officials led by chairman Baham Mitra
Tapdasan, one of the top referees of the World Boxing Organization and other international world bodies, is vice president of the (Association of the Philippine Professional Boxing Ring Officials).

It is a group formed by some of the most prominent referees and judges like multi-awarded Silvestre Abainza, Virgilio Garcia and Angeles City-based Bruce Mctavish.

APPBRO recently held its first assembly at the Grand Villa Hotel in Pateros City following the election of the new set of officers led by an equally respected and veteran referee Ferdinand Estrella as newly elected president.

“We have this active organization, first and foremost, to help maintain the high quality of officiating for boxing in the Philippines. In our first assembly, we held a refresher course to update the knowledge of our referees and judges,” said Estrella, a former Makati City councilor.

Tapdasan, who was asked to talk about effective refereeing, shared some of his trainings abroad with fellow officials.

“Our training is always focused on preserving life. We may be in the sport of fighting but we are actually putting premium on safety. One that stuck the most in my brain was that it is better to stop the fight one punch earlier, than one punch late.”

He was talking about a fight being stopped by the referee at the right time when the other fighter is being pummeled haplessly. It’s better to stop the fight sooner than stepping in late that may cause the life of a fighter.

Danrex Tapdasan: It’s better to stop the fight one punch earlier than one punch late
The referee is always on the lookout for fouls like low blow or hitting below the belt, headbutt, boxing after the bell, punching when the opponent is already down, and the kidney and rabbit punches.

The last one, which is a punch on the back of the head, is the most dangerous as it could cause long-term damage on the aggrieved boxer.

Before Tapdasan’s talk, the youthful but very knowledgeable Oliver Garcia shared his thoughts about the referee’s preparation before the bout.

Foremost, Garcia said, is that the referee should make research about the two fighters he was tasked to officiate. “Kailangan malaman mo kung anong klaseng mga fighters ba ito. Marumi bang maglaro? nakakatagal ba sa laban? Para mas guided ang referee kung kailan dapat ihinto ang laban or alam niya kung anong babantayan na foul sa mga boxers.”

He told the referees, as well as the judges, should carry themselves well upon arriving at the venue and maintain a respectable presence and credibility that we mean serious business.

Jerrold Tomeldan and Zaldy Lopez made a joint presentation of the topic about effective judging as they adopted the modern 3D Scoring Theory developed by the WBC ring officials Steve Morrow, Barry Lindenman and  Hubert Minn.

The 3D simplified boxing scoring to three major factors which are damage, dominance and disruption. 

When asked why judges hand down different decisions in a particularly close fight, architect Greg Ortega came up with an answer. 

APPBRO president Ferdie Estrella (seated right) and board director Greg Ortega (standing) lead the exchange of ideas during the assembly of the country’s top boxing ring officials
“Iba-iba ang anggulo ng mga positions ng judges, yung nakitang scoring punch ng isa, maaring hindi makita nung sa kabilang judges, laluna kapag nakatalikod ang mga fighters and minsan natatakpan pa ng mga referees,” explained Ortega, an international judge accredited with the IBF, WBO, WBC and OPBF. 

Ortega said being a being a boxing judge is no easy task. “You have to spend a lot of time studying but the most important is you have to love the sport.” 

Estrella said that more seminars and trainings will be held to update the APPBRO members on the latest international practices. 

Other members who attended the first assembly for the year were Elmo Coloma, Gil Co, Sammy Bernabe, Al Llaneta, Mike Ochosa, Elmer Lopez, Danny Lopez, Baluyot, Nowel Jaduca, Jojo Llanera, Fernando Batistil, Gerry Tayag, Nikka Ortega and Robert bridges.

Games and Amusement Board (GAB) chairman Baham Mitra graced the affair together with Boxing and Contact Sport division chief Dr. Nasser Cruz, officers Tony Comia and Ralph Diokno.

Topics: Boxing , Danrex Tapdasan , Association of the Philippine Professional Boxing Ring Officials , Ferdinand Estrella
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