Jersey referee makes her mark on boxing history

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A JERSEY-born female boxing referee officiated for the first time in the Island at Leonis ABC’s match versus Islington.

Hilary Lissenden (55) said she was ‘proud’ to have taken charge of several of the bouts on home turf last weekend, having refereed in the UK for eight years.

She became the second female to officiate in Jersey after Amy Pu took charge of several bouts at a Leonis event last October.

Ms Lissenden, whose father was a long-serving doctor in Jersey, said that her interest in refereeing came after taking up the sport.

‘About ten years ago I started doing boxing training and I did a couple of white-collar fights. Then I did coaching and really liked that,’ she explained.

‘Someone suggested I become a judge. There weren’t that many female officials at the time, so I did that and after a couple of years, you can referee as well.’

She added: ‘I’ve been refereeing for about eight years now and I did the national championships last year. I’ve done a couple of internationals.

‘We’ve got some really good girls coming through as referees. Internationally, there’s some really good three-star international females. I think England’s a little behind with it but it’s starting to happen now.’

Ms Lissenden said that her refereeing career had not come without its challenges, including facing sexism.

‘It’s quite challenging being a referee because you never get the same situation twice with two boxers – it’s never the same infringement, atmosphere or venue,’ she said.

‘You are always learning but you get the best seat in the house. I like the fact that I’m responsible for their safety.’

She added: ‘Sometimes I’ve had some quite difficult situations as a female referee but it’s gotten much better in recent years. When I was starting out, some people said “you shouldn’t be doing it, as a woman”. I remember a really low point when I stopped a boxer and I was told by his mum that I had no place in the ring and that I should be in the kitchen cooking.

‘Her son then gave me his runner-up trophy for being the worst referee in the world. I’ve also had a coach call me outside. But I’m experienced enough now and I don’t worry.’

She said that her decision to enter the world of boxing was, at first, not understood by her father, who passed away five years ago, but he changed his opinion after attending an event.

‘My dad was a doctor on the Island for 50 years. He didn’t understand it at first because, being a doctor, he didn’t think too much of boxing,’ she said.

‘But then he came to a show and saw me referee. He saw the vibe and the atmosphere of a really good grassroots amateur boxing show and he then understood, I think.’

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