It was officially announced today that the highly respected and world class championship referee, Ian John-Lewis, has joined the British & Irish Boxing Authority (BIBA).  This follows on from his surprise resignation from the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC) earlier this month. 

A former amateur and professional boxer, he has used this vital experience when he became a referee.  In 2000 he became Britain’s first and still only Black A Star referee.  in 2010 he became the youngest British referee to be the ‘man in the middle’ at the WBC world heavyweight championship and in 2018 was voted the worlds best boxing referee by his qualified peers.

Now in his 30th year as an official he has refereed 1044 championship bouts, mostly in Britain, and 77 championship contests overseas in 19 different countries including; Italy (15), Denmark (6), Germany (11), France (4), Japan (8), Spain (3), Poland (5), South Africa (2), Turkey (3), Belgium (1), Canada (3), Romania (1), Sweden (1), Russia (5), Zambia (1), Finland (2), USA (3), Saudi Arabia (2) and Gibraltar (2).

John-Lewis’ inaugural professional refereeing assignment was the contest between Darren Fifield and Kevin Jenkins at the famous York Hall in Bethnal Green on the 17th February 1993 and his most recent Championship refereeing assignment was on the 10th December 2021, when he was the third man in the ring for the World Boxing Council (WBC) World Youth Championship contest at the National Sports Centre in Crystal Palace, London between Aaron McKenna and Carlos Galego Montijo.

In addition John-Lewis also judged 442 bouts, of which 305 were Championship contests and again whilst most were in the UK, he also travelled the world on judging assignments.

John-Lewis’ first judging assignment was the World Boxing Federation (WBFed) Pan European Championship fight between Jason Hart and Lester Jacobs that took place at Caesars Nightclub in Streatham, London on the 25th November 1998 and his most recent Championship judging assignment being the IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO Championship contest between Undisputed Champion Josh Taylor and and WBO’s #1 mandatory challenger Jack Catterall that took place on the 26th February 2022 at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow.

On making the announcement, British & Irish Boxing Authority (BIBA) Vice President Gianluca Di Caro said;

“It is truly an honour to welcome one of the very best referees in the world to the BIBA family.

“It seems I am not the only one that is overjoyed that Ian has joined us, on Wednesday, following a photo of Ian and myself being posted on social media, it seemed that not only virtually every BIBA members posted extremely positive comments welcoming Ian aboard, but also many of the boxers that Ian had refereed over the years also posted fantastic reviews and offered their congratulations.

“I, and am sure all BIBA officials, look forward to working with Ian, after all, and as it says on the jacket of his biography – ‘he is a fair man’, ‘he is Ian John-Lewis’, ‘he is the Referee’”

John-Lewis, whose biography I AM THE REFEREE was published in 2014, is a man of few words, then briefly added;

“I’m pleased that the British & Irish Boxing Authority has given me the opportunity to continue to do what I do best…Referee.”

About the British & Irish Boxing Authority (BIBA)

Founded in April 2016, the British & Irish Boxing Authority (BIBA) is a professional Boxing governing, licensing and sanctioning organisation that operates primarily, but not exclusively, in the United Kingdom.

The British & Irish Boxing Authority (BIBA) are the indisputable industry leader, with regard to Health & Safety, within the professional boxing world.

BIBA became the first European Commission to become one hundred percent compliant with the American Federal act. “The Professional Boxing Safety Act 1996”

In 2017, following three major life changing injuries and one fatality on BBBofC sanctioned, not BIBA sanctioned, professional boxing events in the UK in 2016, the BIBA board decided it was time for additional procedures in an attempt to try and reduce further bleed to the brain injuries.

BIBA recruited leading head injury specialist and forensic scientist Professor Michael Graham to the BIBA Medical Committee.

BIBA became the first boxing commission world-wide to introduce the potentially life saving Infra-scanners at all events.

To ensure the highest possible level of Health & Safety for boxers competing on British & Irish Boxing Authority (BIBA) sanctioned events all BIBA licensed officials and coaches are required to have attended a Head Trauma Signs & Symptoms Awareness course annually.

It is our belief that it is essential that in order to be able to deliver the highest levels of duty of care to competing boxers on events sanctioned by ourselves that the officials in the ring and ringside, as well as those in the corner of BIBA licensed boxers when competing, are aware of the signs of possible head trauma.

When combined with other BIBA initiatives, such as Infra-Scanners ringside, Rehydration Drinks, Weight-Cutting monitoring etc. we believe that these initiatives will ensure that those that compete on BIBA sanctioned events are receiving the highest possible levels of care, Health & Safety wise, in the sport.

The British & Irish Boxing Authority (BIBA) also believe that it is imperative that procedures are in place to assist boxers when they retire from competing.

It is a well documented fact that when Athletes from any sport retire that the sudden change of lifestyle, as well as the loss of structure required for competition may cause Mental Health issues, such as depression, anxiety and even drug or alcohol dependency.

As such BIBA have not only introduced a system of retraining retired boxers to be Officials and other roles such as Coaches etc to enable them to remain fully involved in the sport.

In addition BIBA appointed two eminent Sports Psychologists, Dr John Pates PhD; Mphil; BA (Jt Hons), PGCE, PDip and Professor Julian S Baker Ph.D, D.Sc, FPhysiol, FHBA, FRSB, FICR, C.Biol, C.Sci to the BIBA Medical Advisory Committee to assist the retired boxers as they make the transition from competing to a non-competitive roles within the sport.

BIBA is a signatory of the Mental Health Charter for Sport and Recreation and have assembled a Committee, that includes Professor Graham, Professor Baker and Dr Pates amongst other specialists to create strategies and procedures to assist those in need of support.

The British & Irish Boxing Authority (BIBA) developed the BIBA Health & Safety Executive website, that not only covers Health & Safety advice, resources and information for boxers, but also features Mental Health awareness information and resources.

Whilst it is essential that we get the much needed information and resources available on the very important subject of Mental Health, we believe that we should also include equally important Health & Safety policies, resources and research, especially those that may reduce the potential risks of bleeds to the brain as well as take a serious look at the current rules of the sport to improve the Health & Safety of those that compete.

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