PHOTO ABOVE: A triumphant three-time Hall of Fame boxing judge Lynne Carter celebrates her achievement on the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum. (Photo: Jano Cohen)
By Jim Brown
While you may not know it right away due to her humble personality, Lynne Carter — the world-renowned three-time Hall of Famer and the World Boxing Organization’s first African-American female boxing judge — has broken barriers in the male-dominated sport.
Carter will be inducted into the 6th Annual Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame over a weekend of celebrations taking place October 7-9 at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City. The introduction ceremony will take place on October 9.
Throughout her 40 years in the business, Carter has judged main events and major title fights with contenders such as Lennox Lewis, James Toney and Dave Tiberi, with whom she will enter the Hall of Fame this year along with Julio Cesar Chavez, Frank “The Animal” Fletcher, Trainer Kevin Rooney, Sr., Chuck Mussachio, Kathy Collins-Globuschui, Kathy Duva, Pat Lynch, Randy Neumann, Dr. Domenic Colett, Tom Casino, and posthumously, James Broad, Eddie Aliano and Harold Lederman.
Carter has rated professional fights on six continents.
Her judging style sets her apart from the rest in the boxing profession, which has earned her many accolades and recognitions.
In 1984, through the Philadelphia Bar Association, Lynne was honored with several other prominent African American pioneers in their respective fields, such as Mae C. Jemison (the first black female astronaut) and Dr. Helen Dickens (the first black woman to graduate from the University of Pennsylvania as the first Black OB GYN).
Carter has also been hailed as a pioneer by Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and was the first female boxing judge to lead a fight in Pennsylvania in 2019.
Carter’s versatility and passion as a boxing judge led her to start a foundation called “A Fight For A Cause” Foundation. She raised money for autism research and created an autistic after-school program in West Philadelphia.
Carter has also donated money to parents of autistic and special needs children and raised money in 2005 for the victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.
Last week, I sat with Mount Airy’s astute and sharp boxing judge to discuss her career and what this new honor to the Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame Class of 2022 means to her.
SUN: Lynne, what was your reaction when you heard that you would be inducted into the Hall of Fame for the third time?
Lynn Carter: I was so happy and excited when I got the call, especially for Atlantic City, because I was the first African American female boxing judge in AC and the second woman. I was so excited that I started calling family and friends and letting them know I was being initiated.
SUN: How does this induction compare to the Pennsylvania State and New Jersey Boxing Commissions Hall of Fame inductions?
Lynn Carter: When I first started my boxing career in Philadelphia, my goal was to go to Atlantic City to get the big fights. When I met Percy Richardson and Jersey Joe Walcott and I was on my way to Atlantic City.
I cried like a baby on the way back in the car that night because they were tears of joy that I got my license to fight in Atlantic City. I rode down with legendary umpires Frank Cappuccino and Rudy Battle, but they paid no attention to me until I screamed.
SUN: What was the reaction of boxing fans when they saw you judging the fights? What was it like judging your first fight?
Lynn Carter: When people came to Atlantic City on buses on Tuesdays, they would say, “What does that young girl know about fighting, what does that young girl know about fighting?” So they were against me because I was young.
But later one of the boys said, “Listen, watch Lynne Carter. okay, because she mentions it.’ It went from ‘she knows nothing about boxing’ to later, [when] she [gained] respect for me. What was most important to me was to gain the respect of the men.
“[Judging] my first fight, I was so, so nervous, I couldn’t reach for the glass of water, because my hand was stuck in the air. It wasn’t until the bell rang that I was okay. I couldn’t do anything. I took my father to the fight because I was too nervous.”
SUN: What is your mindset when judging a fight and what do you look for from fighters to get points to win a round and the fight?
Lynn Carter: Well, my first mindset is focus, pay attention and concentrate. Then, [when it comes to] the screaming people in the background, I block that. And then we have criteria that we look for and I apply my criteria and that’s it. And usually I’m the first to hand in my scorecard.”
There was a fight I judged early on, [when] the fighter was hit right in front of me, and bam!, the blow hit him and he bent down and his trunk split in front of me and that’s what i saw – use your imagination (laughing out loud).
I can’t believe this is my third induction into the Hall of Fame. It’s so special to me because I was the first black female there. I never thought that when I first started boxing I would have made it this far to be in three Hall of Fames.
I couldn’t imagine three. My intention was just to start judging fights – because they said I was good at picking the winners.
SUN: What is it like to be a part of this talented class and be a part of your third Hall of Fame induction?
Lynn Carter: When I first saw who would be in my class I was very excited because I had no idea that I would one day be inducted into a class with Lennox Lewis and Julio Cesar Chavez. In addition, like James Toney and a few other fighters, I actually reviewed their fights.
And a few other people I worked with, like Harold Lederman. He and I were good friends, along with Tom Casino and Domenic Colett. I was really excited and impressed with this class I went to.
Carter was trained by Carol Polis, America’s first female boxing judge and trained by the legendary world heavyweight champion, the late “Smokin” Joe Frazier. Carter was destined for greatness.
SUN: What was it like learning from Carol Polis and Joe Frazier?
Lynn Carter: Well, Carol is a wonderful person. She was the first woman (boxing jury) in the boxing world and we went to two conventions together. You know, she basically took me under her wing and she taught me some of the things I needed to know about combat judging.
And then Joe Frazier – the first thing he said was, ‘I don’t like judges. I like referees, not announcers.’ But I told him I wanted to be educated. And I want to be trained by the best. And he trained me.
He forced me into that ring and put on the gloves and then he would show me the areas where the fighters would get into the zone. And he was just amazing.
And he showed me the basics of boxing. He said, “I’m not a judge, but I know how to fight.”
Lynne Carter has judged fights in six different continents around the world and fighters in just about every weight class.
SUN: What was one of the most memorable fights to review and why?
Lynn Carter:Mike Tyson – because he was absolutely amazing. That fight took place in Atlantic City. I reviewed a few of his fights right before he took the heavyweight title. People would walk in to see the fight, and he had already knocked the person out.
SUN: What is the reward of giving back and why did you choose to focus your foundation on the autistic and special needs community?
Lynn Carter: I’ve always been interested in autism because I saw something on TV about a lady with an autistic son who lived in California and had to travel to New York to get help for her child.
[Her] need for financial help [and] get treatment [but] couldn’t afford it was why I decided to give back to the autistic community.”
For the fighters who could one day be the judge on your boxing card, remember this – to win your fight, you have to impress boxing judge, Hall of Famer Lynne Carter.
Her next bout as assigned judge will take place on January 22 at the Borgata Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey.