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Digital Subscriptions > Boxing News > 23-Apr > STAR CLASS

STAR CLASS

Wally Thom was an excellent fighter and referee

THERE have been quite a few Star referees who had successful professional careers before becoming third men. Recently these include Terry O’Connor, who won the Midlands Area heavyweight title in 1980, and Ian John- Lewis, who boxed for the Southern Area welterweight title in 1989. Dave Parris and Mickey Vann, who were both residents of Leeds, were proficient journeymen back in the 1970s, and both went on to handle very many important title bouts. It is highly unusual, however, for a man to reach the top both as a boxer and as a referee. Wally Thom, of Birkenhead, passed away in 1980 at the early age of 53, but he left behind a unique boxing legacy, for I think that he is the only man to have both won and then refereed a British title contest. Furthermore, Wally won the British welterweight title twice as a boxer and then refereed five contests for the same title. Seaman Tommy Watson had been the British featherweight champion in the early 1930s and he refereed many times in the Northern Area during the 1950s, but he never made it past class B as a ref. Jimmy Wilde was not only an outstanding world flyweight champion, but he also refereed many times during the 1930s, without ever graduating to Star class. Wally Thom is therefore a one-off.

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