Carol Polis Interview Boxing World’s First Lady Judge! By Ken Hissner (Jan 26, 2010) Doghouse Boxing
It’ll be 37 years in February since Carol Polis was appointed the first lady judge in the United States by then Governor Milton Shapp of Pennsylvania. It also made her the first lady judge in the world! She has judged 27 world championships in such places as Denmark, Italy, France, Argentina, Venezuela and Japan.
I’ve know Polis for years and always considered her a friend. She has an outgoing personality and is one with a tender heart in a hard hearted business! She was gracious enough to sit down for a Q&A.
KEN HISSNER: I understand your then husband Bob Polis who was a referee got you started scoring fights to keep you out of trouble at ringside.
CAROL POLIS: Yes, Bob taught me how to keep score in 10 seconds and turned it into the commissioner, Zack Clayton, at the end of the evening.
KH: Zach Clayton was a former Harlem Globetrotter and all around athlete and top notch referee before becoming Pennsylvania Boxing Commissioner. Was he responsible for getting you appointed by the Governor, Milton Shapp?
CP: Yes, he sent me the rules and thick regulation book to study, plus over 1 ½ years asked me on the spot questions. I also turned in my scores to him to compare with the male judges.
KH: I understand you were even on a couple of TV shows due to your occupation. Tell us about that.
CP: “What’s My Line” and “To Tell the Truth”, Al Meltzer Show and Joe Pelligrino Show. Also, many sports and radio shows.
KH: I know your first fight was at the Spectrum in Philly with Earnie Shavers against Jimmy Young. I just did an interview with Shavers who had 68 knockouts in 74 wins. I know he fought Young twice. He scored a knockout and a draw. Did you get a chance to score the fight you judged?
CP: Yes, but I had the knockout fight and I scored 2 out of the 3 since it ended in the 3rd round.
KH: In order to get assigned to title bouts I know you have to join an organization. Have you been with more than one of the groups?
CP: I joined the WBA and IBF/USBA. I did 95% of my title fights with the WBA.
KH: How many title bouts have you worked in your 35 years judging and your favorite place?
CP: It will be 37 years on February 1, 2010. I have worked 27 title bouts throughout the world and 2 non-title heavyweight bouts. One was Mike Tyson and the other Larry Holmes.
KH: I have only seen Rocky I. Which one were you playing a judge in and did you have to audition?
CP: No audition. I just showed up as an extra. I was in Rocky V. It was 4 days of shooting. I met both Rocky and Paulie. Also met Cliff (Assistant director) and asked him if I could sit in my seat. I did.
KH: I had written Mike Tyson in prison and recommended Tim Witherspoon, Bert Cooper or Buster Mathis, Jr. as opponents for his return to boxing. I understand you judged his fight in Philly with Mathis whose father was trained at one point in his career by Cus D’Amato. What was your impression of Tyson in and out of the ring?
CP: I also, in the past, have judged Buster Mathis, Sr. The fight ended in the 3rd round Tyson looked short and massive to me. He was there to win. Out of the ring he had an anger problem which he should have had counseling for to better his life. Hopefully he has somewhat matured and will stay out of trouble.
KH: I’ve seen your picture with both “Sugar” Ray Leonard and Roberto “Hands of Stone” Duran. Did you have a favorite fighter?
CP: Yes, Roberto “Hands of Stone” Duran.
KH: I know you met Ali at his Deer Lake Camp preparing for Leon Spinks. He always seemed to have everyone in stitches around him with his humor. Did you find him that way?
CP: Yes, when I met him he was doing magic tricks for some kids. He then wanted to take my photo with his cook and security man (both black) and put me in the center. He called it the “oreo cookie” photo.
KH: I know you judged the Scott LeDoux fight with Johnny Boudreaux at the Naval Academy which ended in controversy with LeDoux knocking Howard Cosell’s hair piece loose afterwards. I see you broke Zack Clayton’s rule of having an even round. It was Don King’s tournament and Ring Magazine supplied false records and were investigated along with others. Were any of the judges investigated?
CP: I don’t know about any of the others (judges) but 2 days after the fight, two FBI men came knocking at my door. We spent 2 hours talking and I produced all my records as I’m organized.
KH: Is it true you have a concern about a boxer falling through the ropes onto your lap?
CP: Yes and I always have. If the fighter lands on me he will break my back. So I plan to go under the ring. Always watch the ropes being tightened as I’m on the high stool leaning on the apron of the canvas and very close to the fighters.
KH: How is your book coming along and what is the title?
CP: My co-author and I are half done the book. We have two different New York agents who may (one of them) represent us. We should k now shortly. We like the title “The Lady is a Champ”.
KH: If you had to pick one funny story in the 37 years you’ve been judging what would it be?
CP: Not much funny things happen at the boxing event. Other than an occasional ring card girl, It’s a toss- up between seeing Howard Cosell’s toupe flying off at the Scott LeDoux fight and the other one would be one evening at the Spectrum when I was learning to judge, pot was being smoked all aournd me and the man next to me asked me what inning we were in. I asked him which inning he thought it was? He said it had to be the 3rd inning. I agreed with him just to end the conversation.
KH: Last question. What advice would you give to a female wanting to become a professional boxing judge today?
CP: Go to many, many, many fights and compare your scores to those of the officials. When you feel confident, call the commission in Harrisburg (State Athletic Commission) and go from there. This holds true for male or female.
I have known Carol for years and she has an outstanding personality and a reputation for integrity. When it comes to her judging you can watch the concentration she puts into her judging. I look forward to reading her book when it comes out for I am sure it will have some interesting surprises in it.