Boxing referee Frank Cappuccino dies aged 86

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Frank Cappuccino pictured in 2004
Image: Al Pepper.

Long-time boxing referee Frank Cappuccino has died at the age of 86. Cappuccino, who died in Yardley, Pennsylvania on Monday, was suffering from Alzheimer's disease. He started his career in the 1950s and officiated on some of the most famous fights in boxing history; these included 94 world championship fights.

Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission executive director Greg Sirb paid tribute to Cappuccino. He said, in remarks to ESPN, "When he was in his prime, there is no doubt he was one of the top five referees in the world. [...] When he was reffing, he was poetry in motion. He had as much respect from the fighters as any referee there is. I just think they liked his style. He was straightforward. When you got Frank Cappuccino assigned to your bout, you knew you made it."

Some of the most notable fights that Cappuccino officiated over include Lennox Lewis vs. Shannon Briggs, Mike Tyson vs. Michael Spinks, and the 2002 fight-of-the-year between Mike Ward and Arturo Gatti. He himself belonged to both the Pennsylvania and New Jersey boxing halls of fame.

Cappuccino spoke openly about his friendship with notorious boxer Mike Tyson. He had said "I can't say a bad thing about Mike Tyson[...] He's always been very good to me." Cappuccino was the referee during six of Tyson's fights, including his 91-second victory over Michael Spinks in 1998.

He refereed his last fight in 2008 and was a boxing judge up until 2010. He is survived by his wife, Florence.