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Wednesday, 31 July, 2002, 12:38 GMT 13:38 UK

Weary judges feeling the strain

By John Haughey
BBC Sport Online in Manchester

"This is making a mockery of the sport that I love".

Such comments are not unusual at a boxing venue after a perceived dodgy decision.

But one does sit up and take notice when the anger is being directed by someone who is judging at these Commonwealth Games.

Tuesday was a testing day for the referees and judges at Wythenshawe Forum.

Outspoken International Amateur Boxing Association President Anwar Chowdhry was telling anybody prepared to listen that he had suspended Ugandan judge David Agong and another referee for poor performances in a bout on Saturday.

"It's impossible with this computer system to get it right"
Boxing judge

The Pakistani-born president was unhappy with the verdict meted out against his fellow-countryman Asghar Ali Shah after the contest with Scotland's Kevin Anderson.

In all, Dr Chowdry had warned nine officials to buck up their act and summoned referees and judges to a meeting on Thursday ahead of the semi-finals and finals at the 9,500 capacity MEN Arena.

After this most public of rebukes, it was hardly surprisingly that several officials looked a tad weary when they arrived for the evening session.

One referee spoke of his relief that this was his final tournament.

"It's getting crazy. I got a warning earlier this week but it's impossible with this computer system to get it right," he added.

Like all the officials, he was speaking "strictly off the record" because after all, there was still the small matter of maybe getting to officiate at one of the big finals in the MEN Arena.

The contentious scoring system awards a point to fighters when three or more of the five judges presses their computer button within one second of each other.

As Tuesday evening wore on and verdicts became ever more baffling, the officials sitting in front of the press bench became even more outspoken.

At least three competitive fights had been ended in ridiculously premature fashion because of the 15-point rule which provides for stoppages because opponents are supposedly being outclassed.

One judge who had angrily directed criticism at the International president's managerial style was jokingly asked by BBC Sport Online whether this would be his last tournament.

"It will be if you print what I just said," he replied.

Ironically, the judges had been welcomed out to the arena with James Brown's I Feel Good, blaring out over the loudspeaker.

Hardly appropriate in the circumstances.

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