About forty-five years ago, a teenager living in Brooklyn picked up a pair of boxing gloves and began a journey that has not yet come to an end.
It was in the late 1960’s that Jack Reiss began boxing in backyard matches and then went on to compete in amateur fights known as “smokers.” The race was on. He continued his boxing education by participating in full contact kickboxing, and then there were many more “smokers.”
By 1980 Jack had come west to become a member of the LAFD. He started a family, marrying Josephine, and together they have two children, Riley and Joseph. Twelve years later he promoted to captain, a rank he held until he retired in 2011. He also sells real estate with ReMax in Ventura County, helping fire families find and sell homes.
Jack added to his boxing skills by playing organized hockey for a variety of teams, including the LAFD hockey team. There is a joke in there but it would just be too easy.
In 1986 Jack competed in a Fire-Police charity boxing tournament for the LAFD as a middleweight. A middleweight is limited to 160 pounds. In that competition he won the Gold Medal by defeating a member of the Los Angeles County Sheriff Dept.
Jack left boxing for a few years, and then in 1998 he decided to become a referee for the sport instead of an active participant.
It takes about three years to qualify as a referee, including one year in the class room. At the end of the first year Jack had to pass a written and a practical exam. The next hurdle was being selected as a probationary referee. For a few more years, he would participate in professional boxing matches as a referee while being observed by an instructor who would grade his performances.
After years of being an apprentice referee, he received his credentials and became a licensed referee. With these credentials he was able to travel the world from California, to Asia, Europe and Australia, and referee matches without an instructor to guide him.
Although Jack is retired from the LAFD, he is still very active in the boxing world as a referee. Jack is also an instructor for the California Athletic Commission, WBC, IBF, WBO and the British Columbia Commission.
On October 25, 2014, after forty five years of competing in and refereeing the sport of boxing, Jack received an honor that is reserved for a select few. He was inducted into the California Boxing Hall of Fame. This is very thin air indeed.
According to Bruce Young, also LAFD retired, “Jack has and is still having a stellar career as one of the premier men working inside the ropes and has obviously commanded the attention and respect of his peers in the professional world of boxing.” And Bruce should know, as he comes from a pro boxing family himself.
To give you an idea of how highly Jack is regarded, here are just a few of the former inductees: Rocky Marciano, Joe Frazier, Floyd Patterson, Kid Gavilan, Manny Pacquiao, Carlos Palomino, Oscar de la Hoya and Shane Mosley.
To be sure, these are names that are instantly recognizable. There are, however, many more members of this Hall of Fame that most people, who are not intimately involved with the sport of boxing, might not recognize. This does not in any way diminish their contribution to their particular sport. Just as there are many people in the MLB, NFL, and NBA Halls of Fame that the average fan may have never heard of does not lessen their contributions, so it is with boxing.
Jack will be remembered not only as a retired member of the LAFD but also as a world renowned boxing referee. Congratulations to you, Jack, for being inducted into the California Boxing Hall of Fame.
And this will not be the last honor to be bestowed on Jack – far from it. On March 7th, 2015, he will be inducted into the National Boxing Hall of Fame.
If any of you are wondering about which boxer you should be watching in the next couple of years, I have a tip from a well-placed source. The boxer is Gennady G. Golovkin, a middleweight fighter.
By Art Sorrentino, LAFD retired