Inducted on November 10, 2005
Harold Valan was born in Brownsville, Brooklyn New York on March 14, 1917. His boxing career (1930’s-1940’s) began in the ring with many amateur and professional fights. During his boxing days, Harold fought in the Golden Gloves as an amateur and professionally at Madison Square Garden, Sunnyside Garden, New York Coliseum, Broadway Arena, St. Nicholas Palace and the Hippodrome to name a few.
After choosing to retire from boxing, Harold’s love for the sport drove him to become a referee. Starting in the 1950’s, Harold soon became a regular fixture in the Tri-State area, officiating in over 75 fight cards a year, refereeing as many as 4 fights a night. In 1963, he was involved in the first of its kind situation. Scheduled to share that night’s fight card with another referee, he was forced into officiating the entire fight card (8 bouts) due to illness, the first time a single refereed officiated a fight card of that extent.
Soon, the worldwide officiating community noticed Harold’s skill and he became a Global referee. His first international assignment on December 2, 1965 carried him to the Sydney Showgrounds in Sydney Australia to referee the Flyweight Championship between Salvatore Burruni vs. Rocky Gattellari. Other major international ventures followed included two significant distance trips in one year. On May 26, 1968, Harold traveled to San Siro Stadium in Milan, Italy to referee Sandro Mazzinghi vs. Ki-Soo Kim for the Light Middleweight Championship followed on September 14, 1968’s Heavyweight Championship fight Floyd Patterson vs. Jimmy Ellis. On October 31, 1971, Harold was sent to Nihon University Auditorium, Tokyo, Japan for the Light Middleweight Championship Koichi Wajima vs. Carmelo Bossi.
Harold was involved in a very unusual situation in June, 1975 when he was flown to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to referee Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Bugner. Shortly before the fight card began, at the request of the King of Malaysia, Harold was replaced by a local referee before the beginning of the fight as the King wanted an official from his country to have the honor. In the process, Harold was still paid $5,000 as well as incurring $6,000 in travel expenses, therefore it cost the promoter (Don King) $11,000 for him not to referee. By all accounts, this is the largest cash layout for any referee and given the new age of boxing today, referees aren’t Global of this nature since they no longer score the fights.
Of course, Harold was far from limited to international officiating as the list of fights and championships he oversaw are too numerous to account and took him all over the United States as well. Some of the highlight fights include George Foreman vs. Joe Frazier II, Dick Tiger vs. Jose Torres II, Larry Holmes vs. Mike Weaver I (World Heavyweight Championship bout), Bennie Briscoe, vs. Vito Antuofermo, Chuck Wepner vs. Ernie Terrell, Earnie Shavers vs. Jimmy Ellis, and one of his last fights before retiring from refereeing in 1982 was the Super Bantamweight title fight between Wilfredo Gomez and Juan Meza at the Playboy Hotel in Atlantic City.
Harold’s list of fighters reads like a who’s who including beyond the names mentioned already, Duane Bobick, Ismael Laguna, Ray Lampkin, Esteban De Jesus, Buster Mathis, George Chuvalo, Jerry and Mike Quary, Mustafa Hamsho, and on, and on, and on.
After retiring from refereeing, he served a short time as a Judge, but left boxing as an official for good in 1984.
Besides his love for boxing, he did some acting and can be found as the referee in the first boxing scene in the 1980 classic, “Raging Bull.” Harold also provided assistance as a technical advisor on the film, providing a lot of knowledge to the other scenes referees. Harold was the only referee in the movie that had an accomplished fight background and was not a full time actor. Besides “Raging Bull,” he also did numerous commercials and work on a few soap opera’s; “The Guiding Light” being the most prominent where he played a bartender for a few weeks.
In 1985, Harold’s health starting failing and it was discovered he started showing effects of Dementia with Parkinsonium Syndrome. He passed away quietly on December 29, 1991 in Edison, New Jersey at the age of 74.
Harold’s widow and wife of 30 years Sherry Valan and son Charles Valan continue to reside in New Jersey. Charles is married to wife Debra and they have two wonderful children, Daria and Brooke. Harold and Sherry’s other daughter Donna passed away in a tragic fire in 1985.
Harold also fathered 2 other children, a boy named Howard and a girl by the name of Melanie with his first wife Betty.
Name: Harold Valan
Alias: Harold Valandkvalan
Died: 1991-12-29 (Age:74)
Hometown: Brooklyn, New York, USA
Former boxer, but larger claim to fame came as a Boxing Referee who officiating many World Championship fights including Heavyweight Championship matches between Floyd Patterson vs. Jimmy Ellis (1968), Larry Holmes vs. Mike Weaver (1979), and the second George Foreman vs. Joe Frazier fight (1976). A part time actor who also appeared as the referee in the first boxing scene in the movie Raging Bull.
Valan came out of the same neighborhood that produced fighters Mike Kaplan and Al (Bummy) Davis. Valan was later an official with the New York State Athletic Commission during the 1950s, ’60s, and ‘70s, and later in the 1980s with the New Jersey State Boxing Commission.