By Ray Wheatley–World of Boxing
Chicago referee Pete Podgorski who has worked in fifty world title bouts around the world and has a solid background in boxing, along with brothers and sons, having held several amateur titles and also boxing as a professional. Pete talks to Fightnews and tells of his family’s proud boxing history and also how he feels that boxing officiating is continually improving because of boxing commissions and seminars that improve the skills of officials.
The Podgorski family has a solid boxing history with your father Ray having boxed with brothers Stan and Leo and your sons Mathew and Mike all holding Chicago amateur titles. Please advise of titles your brothers and sons held.
My dad Ray had one amateur bout but was always behind us in whatever we chose to do. Son’s Michael and Matt both won Chicago Park District ( Cpd ) City titles with Matthew also winning the Chicago Golden Gloves. My brother Stan won a junior division title when he was about 12 years-old. Leo had a lot of natural ability, he won the Chicago Golden Gloves as a flyweight along with a CPD Open division city title when he was a featherweight.
As an amateur, you were the 1972 Chicago C.Y.O 147lb champ, Wisconsin 1973 champ, 1973 USA boxing team member and 1977 Chicago Park District 156lb champ. You defeated future world title challenger Johnny Lira. Please tell me about that fight and your Chicago title fights.
Lira was always a tough fighter. We fought three times with Lira winning by decision twice. The Catholic Youth Organization, CYO, was a big tournament in the 70’s and it took four wins just to get to the finals which I was all pumped-up for and won by a first round knockout. The CPD Open division 156 lb title was my last amateur bout. It was a big thrill back then, as the open finals were broadcast on national television.
Former world champions Oliver McCall and Barney Ross also rated boxers Bob Satterfield, Eddie Perkins and Craig Bodzianowski also held Chicago amateur titles. Chicago has produced several world champions and it must make you feel proud that you and members of your family held Chicago amateur titles.
There is a great tradition of boxing here in Chicago. Those names are among the best in the business. It’s an honor just to be from the same city as those icons.
You had a good number of professional bouts and boxed world class boxers Ronnie Shields and Harold Brazier in 1982. You also battled Stan Cooper and captured the USA Midwest 154 pound title when you stopped Brandon C. Quarry in five rounds. Please tell me about your professional career.
I was a part-timer. I worked a full time job in recreation and taught physical education part-time along with officiating amateur bouts. With what little time had left, I trained and took occasional bouts, which kept me in shape and close to the sport I love. Cooper was a former amateur champion so he was a big win for me, in a bout where I scored four knockdowns. Quarry was a tough Irish slugger and I was able to get a regional belt with that victory. Both of those fighters were decent but seemed easy to me after getting in the ring with world class guys like Harold Brazier and Ronnie Shields.
You started your professional career as referee and judge in 1987 and have worked on 50 world title bouts around the world in Australia, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Panama, Philippines, South Africa and Poland. Give me your thoughts on working world title bouts globally.
Referee is the capacity I officiated most bouts. Occasionally you get an assignment as a judge. The travel is always interesting, it’s exciting to see different places. I always hope to get an exciting bout. There are not very many things that can measure up to the thrill of officiating a bout where two gladiators go toe to toe for however long the contest lasts.
In 2009 you were the third man in the ring when Nonito Donaire stopped Raul Martinez for the IBF flyweight title in Manila, Philippines. Please tell me about this fight. How good is Donaire?
That was a year ago already and it seems like yesterday, it was a great bout with a lot of action, most of it by Donaire. Martinez probably was the one who was surprised the most. He was very confident during the instructions and I was told he was never down before. Donaire made the bout look easy with four knockdowns. Though none of them appeared to be, what we call “hard knockdowns,” when someone who may never have been down before goes down that often, that’s a good indication that the fighter just isn’t right. It just wasn’t Raul Martinez day. I have seen him before, and he is a good solid boxer with an outstanding record. Donaire was very impressive and has surely opened up some eyes on the worldwide boxing scene.
In 2007 you worked as referee for an IBF 140 pound title bout featuring Lovemore Ndou who stopped Naoufel Ben Rabah in one of the best fights for that year. Please give me you thoughts on that fight.
That was a war, with Ndou pushing forward and trying to break Ben Rabah down in a workman-like fashion. It was very hot in the ring and Ndou seemed to just want it a little more. Both boxers were world class and the fans certainly got their monies worth.
Vic Darchinyan is regarded as one of the world’s best pound for pound boxers and you were referee when he stopped Mzukis Sikali in the IBF, IBO flyweight title bout in Sydney, Australia in 2005. Your thoughts on Darchinyan? He has lost to Nonito Donaire. Can he defeat Donaire in a rematch?
As an official I never make predictions on the outcome of matches. But I can tell you this, Darchinyan is a hell of a puncher for his weight class and Donaire has a bundle of skills. Both of them are among the worlds best and appear to have improved with age. A rematch would certainly make for a exciting bout that any real boxing fan would enjoy.
Please make any comments you feel Fightnews readers would be interested in.
Boxing is continually evolving. The safety standards have improved dramatically. In the countries in which I have had the good fortune to visit, boxing is safer and as exciting as ever. In the USA the standards for boxers and officials are continually upgraded. Several of these improvements can be credited to local commissions and seminars conducted by the world organizations. These seminars are put together by the world bodies Chairman of Officials and Chief officials (Referees & Judges ) and are valuable tools to help officials prepare for world class action.