Stan Christodoulou: a great boxing referee
On Sunday, 13 June, 2004 Stanley Christodoulou was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, New York. South Africa's top referee richly deserved the honour, and the International Boxing Historians and Writers Guild agreed: he was a unanimous choice for induction.
Christodoulou was the first man to referee world title fights in all 17 weight categories, and the third to oversee 100 world title bouts.
It all began in November 1973, when Christodoulou took charge of the bantamweight world title clash between South Africa's Arnold Taylor and Romeo Anaya. It was quite a debut - respected boxing publication The Ring rates that bout the most exciting in the history of the bantamweight division.
Refereeing the biggest bouts
Christodoulou has been in charge of bouts involving some of the biggest names in the fight game, including Victor Galindez versus Richie Kates (May 1976), Marvin Hagler versus Roberto Duran (November 1983), Barry McGuigan versus Eusebio Pedroza (June 1985), and Alexis Arguello versus Aaron Pryor (November 1982).Christodoulou served as executive director of the South African Boxing Board of Control, and has twice been named South African boxing's "Man of the Year".
He is a member of the World Boxing Association's International Officials Committee, and in 1980 was named the WBA's "Referee of the Year."
Christodoulou has also made his mark as a ringside judge. In fact, when one of the worst decisions in the history of the sport was handed down - the draw ruling in the first heavyweight title clash between Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield - everyone agreed that Christodoulou had got it right, scoring the fight firmly in favour of Lewis.
Judge Larry O'Connell saw the fight even, while judge Eugenia Williams incredibly favoured Holyfield by two points. The ultimate outcome was that Christodoulou reinforced his excellent reputation within the boxing world.
When the boxing world's most flamboyant and arguably most successful promoter, Don King, visited South Africa recently, he praised Christodoulou as a great ambassador for the country, describing him as the world's best referee.
Command of the ring
Christodoulou's command of the ring is much like that of a world-class fighter. Think of a great mover, like Sugar Ray Leonard, a fighter who was seldom caught with a good punch because of the way he glided around the ring.
Christodoulou's refereeing contains a similar package. Few of the fights he takes charge of are sloppy affairs. He is constantly on the move, and somehow always in the right position. He's the man to have in the middle if you want to see the "sweet science" of what can be a brutal sport.
Now, after 30 years in the fight game, Christodoulou has received what he says is the greatest honour of his career.
Other living inductees among the Hall of Fame's class of 2004 are super featherweight champion Azumah Nelson, welterweight champion Carlos Palomino, light heavyweight champ Dwight Muhammed Qawi, super bantamweight champ Daniel Zaragoza, promoter J Russell Peltz and journalist WC Heinz.
Christodoulou told the International Boxing Hall of Fame website: "I am sincerely honored and humbled. This is great news. I regard this as the biggest singular honour ever. I mean that from the bottom of my heart."
Christodoulou was presented with a Hall of Fame induction certificate and a gold Hall of Fame ring. A photo of him and his biography will be on permanent display on the Hall of Fame Wall.
Although not a boxer, a strong case could be made that Stanley Christodoulou has made a greater contribution to boxing than any other South African. Induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame makes a strong argument in his favour.
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