Inducted on November 1, 1981

Sammy Sangis - PictureSammy Sangis told me something interesting Sunday morning and I thought I’d pass it on to the readers and fight fans in particular.

Sangis needs no introduction in the column. He’s been my topic many times over the past 25 years. But briefly, he’s a fight buff from way back. He was once the Navy’s 175-pound champ, but as the years wore on, Sangis turned to refereeing amateur fights. His refereeing carried him up, down and out of the state, and a number of times he refereed the Olympic Trials.

Sangis has also tried refereeing professional fights.

A number of times he’s worked as the third man at Totowa’s Ice World. Lou Duva, one of the most successful managers around, believes that Sangis is one of the best in the state. “Sammy can really control a fight,” said Duva recently. “The fight game should have more referees like him.”

Even with all the praise he’s received from Duva and other managers, Sangis has never received too many professional assignments in the state.


It is said that the Garfieldite doesn’t attend boxing meetings called by the state. The other rap is, if it can be listed as such, that he’s protective in the ring with the pros as he is with the amateurs. Some professional managers, promoters and representatives of the state’s boxing commission at times have reprimanded Sangis for being too cautious.

There was one time at the Ice World where Sangis interrupted-he didn’t conclude the fight – the round to have the doctor at ringside look at the bleeding eye of a fighter. After the doctor said that the fighter could keep going, Sangis continued the round. After Sam did this at Ice World, he did it a number of times on nationally televised fights. It is Sangis’ credo to avoid as much injury as possible.

Last Saturday afternoon, while the television cameras panned ringside at Caesar’s Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, I saw Sangis with his arms crossed across his chest, sitting on a high chair outside of the apron of the ring. TV announcer Chris Schenkl said “Sammy Sangris of New York” was one of the three judges for the Claude Noel-Rodolfo Gonzales vacant World Boxing lightweight championship. He looked lonesome perched up so high.

How come Sangis had this assignment? He isn’t one of the state’s favorite fight officials? What did Sam do, attend a meeting, and now Jersey Joe Walcotts office is throwing a bone to appease him? Really, I don’t know what to think. Somebody must have had a change of heart. I know that if Sangis isn’t too fond of attending meetings, it is also known that Walcott doesn’t attend too many fights himself. Deputy boxing commissioner Bob Lee attends the fights.

Noel won the title. It was a unanimous decision.

How did Sam vote? He gave it to Noel, 144-141. Great, I had the same numbers.

Sunday morning I called Sangis to tell him I had seen the fight by the same margin, but I was surprised to see him sitting there as a judge.

Sam said that he was assigned by the WBA office in Mexico. He read the telegram to me. He said the Jersey commission had nothing to say or do about it. It had to follow orders.

He then told me about the do’s and don’ts of being a WBA appointed judge for a title fight. This was interesting.

“There’s a reason for sitting on a high chair and not being allowed to speak to anyone, not even a newspaperman,” said Sangis. “First, to get a better view of the fight. Second to be free of any interruptions or anyone peering over your shoulder to see how you marked the card.”

He went on to say that the card is picked up after every round. Why, Sam?

“Well, they don’t want you to keep the card for the whole fight because you might be tempted or possibly coerced into making some adjustments on some of the previous rounds.

“They don’t want you to keep a running account of the rounds on a:ny piece of paper. They have inspectors, actually the person who picks up your card at the end of each round, who watches your every move,” said Sangis.

Besides depending on your memory, Sam, isn’t there some kind of gimmick you can invent to keep a running account for yourself? Fifteen rounds is a lot of rounds to remember.

“I guess your memory is the best bet. But I didn’t even do that. I marked down every round as I saw it. I believe that I’ve seen and worked enough fights in my ‘life to never be in doubt about a round. I call it the way I see it the first time around. I wouldn’t break any of the WBA rules,” Sangis said.

Let me say in conclusion, I’ve known Sam a long time, and when it comes to refereeing or judging a fight, no man walks straighter. He won’t be bought or accept any advice from a promoter before the fight. He’s cautious, but he’s honest. And you know that is an admirable characteristic !in a sport which at times is a headline stealer because of the many shenanigans that are brought to light.

How much did Sam get paid?

Let him tell you. It was a sum beyond belief. More power to him.