Arthur Mercante Sr.
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- Born in Brockton, Massachusetts, where his father, an Italian immigrant, worked in the shoe factories. Rocky Marciano, another Brockton resident, was a childhood friend.
- Introduced to boxing by his uncle, Joe Monte, a professional boxer who fought James J. Braddock and Max Schmeling. Monte would take his nephew to the Boston gym where he trained.
- Began boxing in the Golden Gloves at age 16.
- Received a bachelor’s degree in physical education from New York University in 1942.
- Served in the Navy during World War II, teaching boxing and refereeing bouts in the physical fitness program run by Gene Tunney.
- After World War II, Mercante received a master’s degree in physical education from New York University, coached boxing at the United States Merchant Marine Academy and refereed college bouts.
- Became a professional referee in 1954.
- First world title fight was Ingemar Johansson vs. Floyd Patterson II at the Polo Grounds in New York City on June 20, 1960.
- Best known officiating job was referring the first fight between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier on March 8, 1971 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. In the 10th round, Mercante endured what he called one of the most embarrassing moments of his refereeing career when he accidentally poked Frazier in the eye while he was breaking a clinch. Frazier and his corner were furious at Mercante, but Frazier went on to win the fight by a 15-round unanimous decision.
- Inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame "Expanded Category" (Referees, Judges & Timekeepers) in 1987.
- Received the James J. Walker Memorial Award from the Boxing Writers Association of America in 1988 for "long and meritorious service in boxing."
- Inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame "Non-Participant Category" in 1995.
- Retired as a referee at age 81. His final assignment was officiating Ricardo Lopez's final bout, an eighth-round knockout of Zolani Petelo at Madison Square Garden on September 29, 2001. Afterward, Mercante would occasionally serve as a boxing judge.
- Officiated fights involving such boxers as Floyd Patterson, Emile Griffith, Sugar Ray Robinson, Carlos Ortiz, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Muhammad Ali, Roberto Duran, Wilfred Benitez, Ken Norton, Alexis Arguello, Thomas Hearns, Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, Mike Tyson, Julio Cesar Chavez, Roy Jones Jr., Felix Trinidad, Kostya Tszyu, Shane Mosley, and Ricardo Lopez.
- Refereed more than 140 world title fights.
- When he died in 2010, the New York Times called Mercante "boxing’s most prominent referee of the past half-century."
- Father of fellow boxing referee Arthur Mercante Jr.