A Model of Change - Joe Dwyer
W.B.C. Official Joe Dwyer Discusses His
Involvement In The Sweet Science
By Ron L. Zaslow
Change is the essence of life. The ability to adapt to new situations and take on different roles is crucial to success particularly in the sport of boxing. Toughness, dedication and passion are vital to making any transition.
Joe Dwyer possesses these characteristics. They have helped him succeed at every level of boxing from the amateur ranks to the sanctioning bodies.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Dwyer’s love for boxing began as a small child, in part to deal with a painful family situation. “It served as a great outlet for me as a child to vent over some anger issues which emerged due to my parents’ separation,” says Dwyer. “I first started fighting at Camp St. Agnus in New Paltz, New York. It was an away camp and my parents were separated. My mother worked full-time, so during the summer I was sent to the camp. It had an amateur program for seven and eight year-olds.”
He vividly recalls his first in-ring experience. “The gloves were probably as big as I was,” he says. “They called the fight a technical knockout in thirty-three seconds. Actually, it ended when the other boy started to cry. That was how I caught the fever.”
Dwyer continued fighting as he got older. “Boxing is the type of sport you have to love,” he says. “I used to eat and sleep it. I used to head straight to the gym after school rather than doing my homework.”
Dwyer compiled an impressive resume as an amateur fighter which included over 50 victories and an AAU middleweight championship. He also fought while serving in Navy. In fact, Dwyer credits his in-ring experience for helping him deal with military life. “I think it was a critical learning period for me,” he recalls. “Boxing really helped me get through the military.”
After his naval service and a stint as a checker on the waterfront, Dwyer followed in his father’s footsteps and joined New York City Police Department in 1961. He served for 34 years as both a patrolman and undercover narcotics officer. Dwyer admits that his in-ring work also helped him excel as a member of New York City’s finest. “Boxing teaches discipline and restraint,” he notes. “It certainly helped me deal with many of the situations and people I came across while on the force.”
While serving in the NYPD, the sweet science called Dwyer to duty. In 1983, he was appointed as an inspector for the New York State athletic commission. The following year he was appointed chief inspector for the State. “It was an interesting role,” he recalls. “I used to tell the inspectors that the corner men will do everything to help their fighter win. Our role was to maintain a balance between permitting them to help their fighter and keeping them within the rules. It was a challenging position.”
In 1996, Joe took on a new role when was named as a boxing judge for New York State. “It came about rather by accident,” he recalls. “I was serving as chief inspector and attended a fight at the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island. One of the judge’s decided he did not want to work the fight. So Rose Trentman, one of the commissioners working that night asked me if I would serve as a judge. I accepted and she swore me in.”
Dwyer then spent four years as a judge and worked over 30 title fights. He took the role seriously. “It’s a very serious matter,” he says. “You have to disregard any prejudices you might have towards a fighter. Their fate is in your hands.” Dwyer believes judging is more challenging than merely watching the fight as a fan. “It’s a matter of complete concentration. You have to block everything out except the fight. Anything less would be unfair to the participants.”
Dwyer’s reputation for toughness and dedication made him a well-respected figure. He eventually became the championship chairman of the International Boxing Federation following the departure of former president Robert Lee. Dwyer served in that position for three years before returning to judging.
But in 2004, the North American Boxing Federation sought out his leadership.
“Rex Walker asked me if I would run with him to oppose the incumbent,” says Dwyer. “I ran as a vice-president. I was elected in May 2004 and was soon thereafter appointed as championship chairman. I was also appointed to the Board of Governors of the World Boxing Council.”
Dwyer enjoys working with both organizations. “I find these positions gratifying,” he says. “Sanctioning championships fights is really my forte. I have developed good relationships with most promoters. In my first year as championship chairman, I put together 31 title fights. Fortunately, that rate seems to be continuing. For the first six months of 2006 we had 13 title matches.”
Dwyer believes the sport can change for the better. First, it must invest in developing a younger fan base. “I think the sport lacks a youthful following,” he says. “Most of the fans are middle aged men. We have to come up with something to cultivate a younger following.”
He also calls for uniform medical rules. “Medical requirements are the sore spot in boxing today,” he notes. “There is no uniformity whatsoever on what the fighters must produce. In some places you need an MRI. Others barely take your pulse. We need uniform medical requirements throughout the 50 states.”
Dwyer also believes that women’s boxing is a changing presence in the sport. “In the beginning, I think they did a token fight, as an attraction for the men in the audience,” he says. “I think it will grow particularly as it gains in amateur ranks, which really serves as the foundation for the professional level. In fact, currently, in some respects, the women are even better than the men’s fights because they fight only two minute rounds. Shorter rounds tend to mean more action-packed contests.”
One thing will never change, however- Dwyer’s love for the sweet science. “My devotion to the sport will always be there,” explains Dwyer. “It has helped me grow as a person. I owe alot to boxing and hope to keep contributing to it for the foreseeable future.”