Sometimes fans can be obnoxious at sports events, screaming obscenities and making life uncomfortable in other ways for spectators in close proximity.
Hubert Earle can thank a fan sitting next to him in the cheap seats at a Halifax boxing arena nearly four decades ago for his decision to become a boxing referee – and now a Hall of Famer.
Unhappy with the way the referee was officiating the contest, Earle blurted out his displeasure, prompting the fan to remark that Earle should consider refereeing if he did not like the way the third man in the ring was making judgment calls.
“I figured I paid my money and I could let my mouth go,” said Halifax-born Earle. “But when the guy told me if I thought I could do better then I should be down there, it got me to thinking hard about what he said.
“It suddenly occurred to me that if I did that, I would have the best view in the arena and I would be paid. That seemed to make sense.”
Earle, who refereed his first professional bout in September 1980 at Halifax’s Metro Centre, is going into the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame as a builder. The induction ceremony takes place on October 9.
He has officiated in 210 men and women bouts in the last 30 years, including 19 world championship contests and Joe Calzaghe’s last fight against Roy Jones Jr. at Madison Square Garden in November 2008. Calzaghe recorded a unanimous win, leaving the sport with an unblemished 46-0 record.
The first Canadian referee to be appointed to the New York State Athletic Commission to referee a main bout at Madison Square Garden, Earle said he’s honoured to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
“As a child, I had an interest in combat sports and that curiosity grew as I got older,” Earle, the former Nova Scotia Boxing Authority chair and World Boxing Association (WBA) ring officials’ assistant coordinator, told Share. “I however was never a participant until I took up refereeing. To be recognized for something I have been doing for over 30 years means that Nova Scotians have been taking notice of my body of work.”
Earle joins distinguished Canadian pugilists George “Little Chocolate” Dixon and Sam “Boston Tar Baby” Langford in the Hall. Dixon became the first Black world champion in 1890 when he beat Nunc Wallace in London to clinch the bantamweight title while Langford won 200 of his 314 fights and later became Joe Louis’ trainer.
Truro native Art Dorrington, the first Black player to sign with a National Hockey League (NHL) team when he joined the New York Rangers in 1950, and William Henry – one of the province’s greatest athletes in the mid-1800s – are also in the Hall of Fame. Henry was inducted for his lacrosse, rugby and cricket prowess.
The chairman of the Canadian Boxing Federation officials committee, Earle does not have plans to retire soon.
“I will continue until it’s time for me to stop,” said the province’s first combat sport director. “When I am no good for the fights, I will know it’s time to step away.”
Earle said fights styles have changed in the last three decades.
“Boxers are now a lot smarter and they approach the sport like a chess game,” he said. “Years ago, it was more of a warrior approach with boxers depending more on their strength and punching power.”
Former Canadian basketball player William Njoku, who was drafted 41st by the Indiana Pacers in the 1994 National Basketball Association (NBA) draft, is also among the newest Hall of Fame class.
The former Crandall University director owns a motivational speaking company, Will2Win.