Steve Smoger left behind an officiating legacy prone to go unmatched.
The legendary referee—a Class of 2015 Worldwide Boxing Corridor of Fame inductee—handed away over the weekend at age 79 in Ventnor, New Jersey, having been hospitalized for months after battling kidney failure. Information of his dying was revealed on Monday, greater than a 12 months after his closing professional task when he labored as a choose for 2 undercard bouts on a November 2021 DAZN present in Manchester, New Hampshire.
Smoger was born August 15, 1943 in Norfolk, Virginia however was raised within the larger Atlantic Metropolis space the place he spent the period of his life. He graduated from Atlantic Metropolis Excessive College in 1961, then acquired his greater schooling at Penn State College and later at George Washington College.
The charismatic ring official additionally served within the U.S. Air Power Reserves for extra thirty years earlier than retiring in 2005 whereas acquiring the rank of colonel.
The renaissance man was in the end identified for his greater than 40 years of service in boxing, which was at all times his past love. Smoger was raised on the game, a bond shared together with his father as he spent his childhood watching the Gillette Cavalcade of Sports activities. His first official function in professional boxing got here as an inspector in 1978, licensed by former heavyweight champion Jersey Joe Walcott who was the chairman of the New Jersey State Boxing Fee on the time.
Smoger would make his approach into the ring in 1984 as a referee and likewise as a ringside choose. He spent his first two years working fights in his native Atlantic Metropolis earlier than working his first world title struggle. It will double as his first task outdoors the U.S., as he served as third man for an April 1986 IBF flyweight title struggle in Busan, South Korea.
The journey would mark the beginning of an unbelievable globetrotting journey loved by Smoger, who officiated in additional states and nations than every other ring official. He would in the end work in additional than 30 nations throughout six continents, his final journey outdoors the nation coming in a July 2018 ten-round contest in Kingston, Jamaica.
The complete listing of nations the place Smoger was assigned as a referee or choose had been (in alphabetical order): Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, China, Cypress, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico, Morocco, Panama, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, South Korea, St. Lucia, St. Maarten, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Ukraine and U.S. Virgin Islands.
Smoger additionally had the respect of refereeing greater than 200 title fights amongst 1,051 total professional bouts throughout 32 years. His closing evening as a referee got here in August 2018, when he labored 4 membership degree bouts on the famed 2300 Area in South Philadelphia.
At his greatest, Smoger was generally known as a fighter’s referee. Whereas by no means placing an athlete’s well being in danger, he earned a status for giving boxers each likelihood to struggle their approach out of bother in lieu of being fast to cease a struggle. One shining instance was the unforgettable September 2007 conflict between Jermain Taylor and then-unbeaten challenger Kelly Pavlik in Atlantic Metropolis. Pavlik was dropped and badly harm in spherical two however permitted to struggle on, as he rallied to drop and cease Taylor within the seventh spherical to win the lineal/WBC/WBO middleweight crown of their first assembly.
His years of ring experience allowed Smoger to additionally double an on-air skilled analyst. Smoger labored a number of boxing sequence, together with USA’s Tuesday Evening Fights, ESPN2’s Friday Evening Fights, HBO’s Boxing After Darkish and serving as a guidelines skilled for a number of Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) telecasts on NBC and the now defunct NBC Sports activities Community.
Smoger was the eleventh referee inducted into the Worldwide Boxing Corridor of Fame as a part of the Class of 2015. He was additionally enshrined within the New Jersey Boxing Corridor of Fame in 1997 and the Pennsylvania Boxing Corridor of Fame in 2013, whereas serving as a member of the Class of 2014 within the Philadelphia Sports activities Corridor of Fame.
Fittingly, Smoger was honored in his hometown as an inaugural member of the Atlantic Metropolis Boxing Corridor of Fame in 2017.
Funeral preparations and surviving members of the family weren’t instantly generally known as this goes to publish. Longtime buddy and fellow Corridor of Fame inductee J Russell Peltz knowledgeable the boxing neighborhood to move alongside condolences to the Smoger household at 8 S. Cambridge Ave., Ventnor, NJ 08406.
Jake Donovan is a senior author for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox