Well it finally happened, it was close to a year long process from CSAC transferring my application to IKF, hit & miss emails and phone calls but this past weekend I had the change to shadow judge my first batch of Muay Thai matches. After all was said and done, on my score cards I went 13 out of 14 bouts in picking the winner, but not without controversy. The bout I missed ended up being a split decision win for the corner I did not choose, and as every fan knows this is where the disagreement between fans and judges never ends.
He shot a smile back at me, as to say good eye and we continued onto the next bout.
As a fan I can understand that you want your favorite fighter to win, and as a judge you have a job to ensure that the proper fighter wins. On my side I tried my hardest to ensure I scored the bout properly, so what did the judge I shadowed see that I didn’t? We were on the same side of the ring but we had two different decisions. The judge even agreed that it came down to the 2nd round and the difficulty of seeing the tide change smack in the middle of the 2nd round. After the bout, I had a retired 90’s IKF Champion ask me my unofficial score for the bout, in which I replied split for the opposite corner. The retired champion agreed with my decision over the judges and he couldn’t see why the judge had it the other way, and then it clicked.
Earlier in the event there was a bout in which the judge and myself both choose the same fighter to win, my card being 3-0 and his being 2-1, upon questioning the round in which he awarded the opponent, he said he felt the other fighter controlled the round better (in regards to pace and aggression). My response to him was, “even if the fighter wasn’t as effective as the other who had cleaner shots and better defense?” He shot a smile back at me, as to say good eye and we continued onto the next bout. I don’t know if he was testing me or if he was serious on his decision.
As I look back at the event, I’m starting to see that each judge looks from something different in the fight. I now see why the outcome of the cards gives us the “Don’t leave it to the judges” mentality, we’ve grown to love. In truth you don’t know what each judge looks for, whether it’s points, power, aggressiveness, or defense. There are a few factors that we as fans and fighters do not see. Being 5 – 10 feet from the action from a stationary chair as opposed to being able to stand and move around, looking to see not only the effectiveness of the blows but if it has connected or not, and that’s just for one fighter and not the other. We as Muay Thai fans have a bias towards our fighters no matter how much we say we don’t, as fighter all you can do is give it your all, and now as a judge, I have to give you what I see.
Frank is an amateur Muay Thai fighter who is making his transition into being a ring official in the State of California with the IKF, an internationally recognized organization. Frank hopes to bring his perspective and insight of Muay Thai to help bring in the next era of ring officials for Muay Thai here in the United States.
Follow Frank on Twitter @Plum_Tee