An American Referee in London

By Ted Sares on May 28, 2013
An American Referee in London
Pete Podgorski flew from Australia to London to referee Froch vs. Kessler II at the 02 Arena.

The referee in the Carl Froch vs. Mikkel Kessler rematch is from the northwest side of Chicago. His name is Pete Podgorski and he is a former amateur and professional light middleweight boxer (known as the Polish Hammer) who compiled a 45-12 mark in the amateurs (see:

He was 22-15 in the pros and his opposition included Harold Brazier, Ronnie Shields, Mike Mungin, and Randy Mitchem.

As a referee, Podgorski has been working steadily since early 1987 when he did the Edwin Santana-Grayson Handshoe bout in Highland, Indiana. While the Chicago area has been his main port of call, Pete has worked title fights in France, Germany, Denmark, Poland, South Africa, Australia, and the UK among other international locales and has emerged as an elite referee.

Because of our close Chicago connection, I have been watching Pete work for some time now and have been highly impressed by his ability to control matters without being intrusive. Back on June 14, 2012, I penned a blog titled “The Perfect Stoppage” in which I extolled Pete’s conduct in stopping a fight between Ivan Popoca and Jose Luis “El Terrible” Castillo (yes that Castillo). Said Teddy Atlas about that fight, “The referee thought what we thought—no chance for Popoca to win, why allow him to continue…especially in the form he was in, looking at his face.” You might also recall that the ringside doctor quipped, “He’s a bloody mess, but he can continue.” Pete cut Ivan some slack until finally the “bloody mess” made it imprudent to continue.

Podgorski, having been a boxer himself, knows boxing through and through and knows how to save a fighter for another day.

Fast Forward

After refereeing a number of main events (mostly in Chicago), Pete traveled to Australia to work the IBF Super World super middleweight title bout between Will Tomlinson and Malcolm Klassen at the Melbourne Pavilion on May 25. Taking advantage of the time difference, he then quickly flew to London in time to referee the high profile Froch-Kessler bout at the 02 Arena, where he turned in another superb job. In fact, most observers didn’t even notice him as he quietly but quickly moved in and out without being a nuisance, breaking the fighters only after it was clear they could not (or would not) fight out of the clinch, keeping things clean throughout, and letting the fighters have 100% of the limelight after the fight..

The unassuming and highly affable Chicagoan, who stays in tip-top shape, did what a referee is supposed to do in London; he was the boss without having to be the boss.  Let’s see more of Pete Podgorski.

Ron Lipton

Along other lines and speaking of referees in tip-top shape, it was gratifying to see veteran ref Ron Lipton work the vacant International Women’s Boxing Federation super featherweight contest between Ronica Jeffrey and former WBC super featherweight champion Olivia Gerula this past weekend. Lipton turned in his usual fine performance during the 10-round world title bout in which there was minimal holding or clinches and no fouls in the main event at the Westchester County Center in White Plains, New York. We need to see more of Ron in New York City.

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  1. raxman 04:58pm, 05/29/2013

    Ted - minor correction mate - the Tomlinson fight, I think you’ll find was for the IBO title - the poor cousin of the alphabet 4. Tomlinson got a gift but your boy Pog did ref’d well
    he’s a good ref no doubt. particularly when it comes to protecting a fighter and it makes sense that he is a very experienced fighter

    Irish Frankie raises the rabbit punching of froch. I was watching froch-dirrell fight the other day and I’ve formed the opinion that a rabbit punch isn’t a rabbit punch if your way of fighting on the inside is just to drop your head

  2. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 04:05pm, 05/29/2013

    Ted Sares-One caveat…or two….or three…he was just a tad solicitous of Froch’s well being…after one unintentional low blow he seemed to be on high alert for any and all Kessler punches at the belt line….he went to Kessler’s corner at the end of a round where Mikkel was throwing at the bell and seemed to give guidance about throwing ‘late”....yet seemed oblivious to Carl’s rabbit punching but got right on Kessler for retaliating in kind. One more one….he either was keenly aware that the bell was only seconds away in the final round when Carl was swarming or he was getting ready to jump in to “save” Mikkel which would have been a total disgrace…ahh but he didn’t…otherwise we’d be talking about a really fine referee who screwed up royally.

  3. Tony 01:00pm, 05/29/2013

    I remember seeing multiple Podgorski brothers in Golden Gloves bouts on local TV from St. Andrews Gym in Chicago in the 1970s.  I certainly remember Pete, but also a Leo, a Stanley, and a Matt, I think.

    Never actually met any of them, but loved seeing the familiar family names year after year, and it’s cool to see at least one of them still involved in the game at a high level.

  4. Ted 11:22am, 05/29/2013

    Yes Krush, Pete is a Portage Parker

  5. Tex Hassler 10:11am, 05/29/2013

    Mills Lane was my favorite referee.  Pete Podgorski is probably just a good and certainly better than most of the rest. A referee has a hard job and fighters’ lives may depend on his call.

  6. The Krusher 09:39am, 05/29/2013

    Wow. He is from Portage Park and fought out of Clarendon Park. He grew up in our hood, Bull.

  7. Ted 07:12am, 05/29/2013

    You are so right, Djata. Not one of my favorite refs.

  8. Djata Bumpus 06:57am, 05/29/2013

    Ted…this is the first piece that I’ve seen on a referee, for some time…Arthur Mercante used to get a lot of press, but, paradoxically, unlike the gentleman above, he was very intrusive and unfair, when he reffed one of my New York fights.

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