Judging characterMost people know him as the overly talkative but amiable Newport Police Chief, but few know of his passion for amateur boxing and his hope to become a referee.
By: Judy Spooner, South Washington County Bulletin
Most people know him as the overly talkative but amiable Newport Police Chief, but few know of his passion for amateur boxing and his hope to become a referee.
Currently a judge for regional and local boxing matches, Veid Muiznieks, has his sights set on being inside the ropes as a referee.
To achieve that, he’ll have to scour local boxing clubs for opportunities to practice refereeing sanctioned sparring matches. For now, he’s sitting on the sidelines as a judge.
A native of Latvia, he came to the United States as a young boy, with his family to live in St. Paul’s Highland Park.
One of Muiznieks’ fondest memories is sitting beside his father during televised boxing matches on Wednesday and Friday nights in the ‘50s.
“I couldn’t figure out for the longest time how he always knew who would win the fight,” he said, in an interview at the UpperCut Boxing Gym in Northeast Minneapolis during Golden Glove regional competition. “It dawned on me later that he was going on their win and loss records,” Muiznieks said.
On first seeing an amateur boxing match, one might conclude the purpose is to beat an opponent senseless, but there’s more to it for people, such as Muiznieks, who see a deeper meaning.
In addition to his interest in amateur boxing, he’s also maintained a longtime interest in Boy Scouts and has achieved some of its highest honors as an adult leader.
Boy Scouts and amateur boxing share common goals that Muiznieks said he believes are important such as development of personal character, discipline, sportsmanship and self-respect.
Being a winner in the ring is 50 percent training, 25 percent talent and the rest is “heart,” according to John Hoffman, boxer and ring announcer for this year’s Region I Golden Glove matches.
Every match is different, said Muiznieks, who sat at one of four tables of judges around the boxing ring and judged five of the 10 matches on the regional card.
After watching a boxer get the worst of it in the first round of a novice match and come back to win, he said some boxers take longer to warm up.
“It’s about character,” he said. “Boxing is a test of how deep you can go inside yourself to summon what’s necessary. It’s a test of who you really are underneath.”
Boxing fans also look for boxers to summon up courage to go on with the match after being tested by an opponent. They respond with applause and cheers when a boxer returns as good as he got, Muiznieks said.
Amateur matches are judged according to Olympic rules, he said, which are different from professional boxing.
Novice matches, for younger boxers, have three one-minute rounds. Championship bouts are three rounds of three minutes each. Boxers wear headgear and protection below the waist.
They win based on the number of clean hits on their opponents with the white area of boxing gloves that are three-inch strips across the knuckles.
Body areas where hits can be scored include the front half of the face, neck and chest of an opponent. Hitting an arm doesn’t count and a hit below the waist can bring a caution from a referee that could result in an official warning if repeated. Three warnings in a round disqualify a boxer. A referee can stop a match at any time for rule violations because the safety of boxers is most important, Muiznieks said.
“He’s going to sit for a long time,” Muiznieks said.
There can be redemption, however, if a boxer can show he has learned to respect the rules.
To become a boxing judge, Muiznieks attended a half-day clinic and passed a Level I test and had to judge matches over a three-year span. After that, he attended another clinic and tested for Level II.
After passing tests and judging many practice rounds, judges attain certification from USA Boxing and the chief of boxing in the state where they live.
While in the process of gaining official judge status, men and women practice scoring matches. Their goal is to consistently be close to how officials have judged matches.
With a red counter in the left hand for the boxer in the red corner and a blue one in the right hand for the blue corner, a judge counts the number of scoring hits.
“You have to watch both boxers,” he said, “ and sometimes you can’t see everything. That’s why there are five judges all around the ring. The best boxer doesn’t always win.”
Having achieved judge status five years ago, Muiznieks is continuing his quest to become a referee.
He has judged more than 800 bouts with 40 of them in national Silver Glove competition for competitors 16 and under. Four of them were championship matches. At national Golden Glove competition in Grand Rapids, Mich., he was asked to judge three of 11 matches.
Judges and referees are not paid. They volunteer because they love the sport, he said.
“It’s satisfying enough to know you were there for the boxers and helped them with their successes,” Muiznieks said.