Natalie Tyrrell has been a judge in the North Las Vegas Justice Court for 19 years. Recently she became a judge in another arena, the boxing arena.
She is the only boxing judge in Nevada who is also a court judge, and she is one of only four female boxing judges in the state.
She talked with Judicial Edge Today about her dual judicial occupations.
Getting the Job
All Nevada judicial judges are elected to the bench, but to become a boxing judge, one must apply to the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
Judge Tyrrell says she developed an interest in becoming a boxing judge when she watched fights with her father as a child. She served as an amateur boxing judge for 10 years with USA Boxing. Then, in 2015, the state athletic commission conducted a recruitment for professional (paid) boxing judges. She applied and was selected, but there would be more work to do before she could judge a professional fight.
She was assigned a mentor judge to learn from. After shadowing him for approximately two years she was finally appointed a professional boxing judge in March 2018.
Doing the job
In boxing, she explains, judges score each round individually and without knowing how the other two judges are scoring it. Each judge watches from a different side of the ring. Her license with the state Boxing Commission, which must be renewed annually, requires, among other things, an eye exam.
Judges look for specific scoring criteria – for example, if the boxer is landing punches in the scoring zone and what the impact is of the punches. The scoring zone starts at the top center of the head and runs on an imaginary line down the sides of the head, through the ears, down to and including the shoulders, navel and hipbones.
Judges use a 10-point “must” scoring system. The boxer that wins the round receives a score of 10 points minus any point deductions for fouls issued in the round. The boxer that loses the round receives a score of 9 or less.
Scorecards are collected after each round by the referee to ensure that once a judge scores a round, the totals are final; a judge cannot go back and change it. The round scores are tallied at the end of the bout by Boxing Commission representatives to determine the winner of the match.
Tyrrell says the most memorable fights are those with a lot of action. However, those are also the toughest to score. One must weigh the number of scoring punches-landed against the impact/effect of the punches landed. One boxer may be consistently landing scoring punches throughout the round. But if the other lands a punch that staggers the opponent, that second boxer can “steal the round” because of the impact/effect.
Balancing the jobs
Judge Tyrrell’s position in the North Las Vegas Justice Court is full time and she works in the second-busiest justice court in the state.
Being a boxing judge is a part-time position based on the number of fights scheduled in Nevada. She says she has been assigned to judge 12 bouts (two each at six shows) so far this year.
Judges and sports fans may recall an earlier connection between boxing and a trial judge in Nevada. Former Washoe County (Reno area) District Court Judge Mills Lane was a boxer and later a high-profile boxing referee. He officiated at the famous 1997 rematch between heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson in which Tyson bit Holyfield’s ear. Judge Lane disqualified him. He later had his own TV court show, Judge Mills Lane, which lasted three seasons. He suffered a debilitating stroke in 2002.