Sad to report that famed Florida referee Eddie Eckert passed away on January 7. Eckert officiated his first pro fight in June 1961 and refereed his last fight in June 1995. In that 34-year span, some of the fighters he shared the ring with included the legendary Willie Pep (in 1965), Cleveland Williams, Jimmy Ellis, Michael Dokes, Alexis Arguello, Tim Witherspoon, Leon Spinks, Wilfredo Benitez, Vincente Rondon, Mike Quarry and Maurice “Termite” Watkins. One of the bigger fights he oversaw was the John Mugabi versus Terry Norris fight at the Sun Dome in Tampa in March 1990. Respected by his peers and by people who know and understand boxing, he was often paid the ultimate compliment a referee can receive. “You didn’t even know he was in the ring.” Eckert was inducted into the Florida Boxing Hall of Fame in 2011.