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World Class referee: Tom Cleary

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The late Tom Cleary was one of the most respected referees in the world during his illustrious career. He joins a select group in the Class of 2018 getting inducted into the USA Boxing Alumni Association Hall of Fame.

The second annual USA Boxing Alumni Association Hall of Fame reception, held in conjunction with the 2018 USA Boxing Elite and Youth National Championships and Junior and Prep Open, December 2-8, will be held December 7, at the Radisson Hotel (215 S. Temple St.) in Salk Lake City, Utah.

In addition to Cleary, the Class of 2018 also includes U.S. Olympic Team medalists and world (professional) champions Roy Jones, Jr., Andre Ward and Claressa Shields, as well as a past USA Boxing National Director of Coaching, the late Emanuel Steward.

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The charter class inducted last year included Muhammad Ali and Evander Holyfield, as well as veteran coaches Roosevelt Sanders and Tom Coulter.

A longtime resident of Westchester, Ohio, Cleary was a USA Boxing member since 1982, and he served as Chief of Officials for the National Collegiate Boxing Association from 2002 until his passing May 21, 2017.

He refereed in 12 different countries, on four continents, as an International Official assigned by AIBA. Tom earned a three-star rating and he was selected to work the World Series of Boxing.

“Tom’s dedication to amateur boxing and respect he garnered from boxers, coaches and fellow officials are second to none,” said Chris Cugliari, USA Boxing Alumni Association Executive Director. “The Alumni Association emphatically endorsed his case for the Hall of Fame, and his induction was received both by those close to him, as well as the entire amateur boxing community. Tom’s commitment to serving USA Boxing provides a great example for all of us and we couldn’t be prouder to call him a member of this year’s Hall of Fame class.”

Tom never forgot where he came from, dedicating countless hours to the youth of Cincinnati, in addition to helping boxing clubs run efficiently throughout his community for more than a quarter-century.

The 2017 NCBA Official of the Year, Tom worked local, regional, national, International, world and Olympic levels of boxing. Highlights included working numerous U.S. National Championships, four U.S. Olympic Trials (2000, 2004, 2008 & 2012) and the 2007 World Championships in Chicago.

“When I was a young coach at the Air Force Academy,” USA Boxing coach Ed Weichers commented, “we needed to replace an AIBA top notch referee who was retiring. We were looking for a highly qualified person and Tom Cleary was recommended. He came out the next 25 years straight. Tom was one of the best referees. He cared so much about the safety of the boxers and Tom was also a valuable mentor.

“Tom was a wonderful man who everybody loved. He administered referee clinics in the United States and always helped those in need, youngsters and adults. Tom’s work in the Cincinnati area influenced so many boxers and coaches for more than 25 years. We dearly miss him.”

USA Boxing Alumni Association

Created to champion a lifelong, mutually beneficial relations between USA Boxing and its alumni, –boxers, officials, coaches and boxing fans — The Alumni Association connects generations of champions, inspiring and giving back to USA Boxing’s future boxing champions, in and out of the ring.

The USA Boxing Alumni Association is open to anyone who has a love for boxing and would like to stay connected with amateur boxing. Members are granted access to a wide variety of special events host by the Alumni Association, including the USA Boxing Alumni Association Hall of Fame reception.

To join the Alumni Association, simply register at alumni@usaboxing.org for a $40.00 per year membership fee. New members will receive a T-shirt, keychain and e-wallet.

Tom is survived by his wife, Diane, their two children and eight grandchildren.

Tom Cleary’s leadership and mentor-ship inspired all those who were fortunate enough to meet him. He cared passionately about the boxers he shared the ring with, offering words of advice before, during and after bouts.

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