BY CHRIS MCNULTY
JAMES McCarron says refereeing at the European Junior Championships will be the ‘highlight’ of a decade-long career in the role as a boxing referee.
So long as he doesn’t happen to follow in the footsteps of Mr Maciej Dziurgot, the referee who was viciously attacked in the ring by boxer Vido Loncar after he lost his fight last week at the European Youth Championships in Croatia.
Loncar and opponent Algirdas Baniulis were trading punches when the referee broke them up and initiated a standing count against Loncar, before calling off the fight. Loncar was livid and set upon Dziurgot.
McCarron has never seen the likes.
“The relationship is good with the boxers usually,” smiles the affable Carrigart man, who has been a referee since he hung up his own gloves.
He’d contested, but lost, an Irish schoolboy final himself, but he found his calling as, first, a judge and, now, a referee.
He says: “I packed up boxing and started judging when I was 17. It wasn’t long before I took up refereeing.”
A son of Thomas McCarron, the founder member and head coach at the Carrigart club, James is a chef in the Carrigart Hotel. He’s a familiar face around the boxing scene and has officiated at 13 internationals – the most recent in Frankfurt, Germany in 2012.
He became a one-star referee back in February and considers it a ‘brilliant honour’ to be selected for duty in Russia this week.
He says: “This will definitely be the highlight of my career.
“I really enjoy it. You do need to be thick skinned alright. You’re in there on your own and you’ve no linesmen helping you, no nothing. Just you, with a split second to make a call on something that’s happening at lightening speed.
“But I love it.”
The sport has seen some drastic changes in recent times, but McCarron has welcomed the new scoring system.
He says: “I think that the new scoring system has worked far better, but I wouldn’t be too pushed on the headgear thing. The scoring system is more like the pro style, but I think it’s worked well. The lack of headgear can cause problems – we saw what happened Michael Conlan at the Commonwealth Games where he got the bad cut on the head.
“The new system suits the referee. Before, we had to caution them with hand signals, but now we can actually step in and speak to the boxers. We used to be like robots.”