Boxing official Mike Summers just laughs when reminded he seems to be attracted to some of the more dangerous places on earth for officiating assignments.
Summers left for the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico Wednesday morning, where earlier this week there was wave of violence in the city and surrounding areaafter two drug cartel leaders were arrested.
The 45-year-old St. John’s native, who has officiated in his sport in major events all over the world, said he really doesn’t pay much attention to problems that could arise in host cities.
Summers, a Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officer, has faith in the local organizers.
“It doesn’t concern me,” said Summers. “You hope safety issues in the places where these big tournaments are held have been taken into consideration. You put it out of your mind and concentrate on your job.”
Summers, who has been involved in officiating since 1992, was an official at last year’s South American Games in Medellin, Columbia, another area were there were some safety concerns.
He also officiated at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, India.
A couple of Canadian athletes pulled out of the Games in New Delhi because of concerns over health and safety issues, and Canadian athletes were cautioned not to go anywhere alone outside of the Athletes’ Village.
Summers officiated at the 2005 world championship in China, which was bigger than the Olympics in terms of boxing competitors.
The next logical step in terms of Summers’ assignments would appear to be the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, England.
He didn’t want to say yes or no when asked if he anticipates getting an offer to officiate in London.
“It’s hard to say. I mean, it’s in the back of my mind,” he said. “It would definitely be the pinacle of my career and a tremendous accomplishment after all the time and effort I’ve put in, but who knows?”
What’s important, he says, is that he does a good job in Mexico.
“You want to keep your status as a three-star official. You don’t want to be downgraded.”
Next up, the Olympics?
He said it’s strictly up the referee and judges commission of the International Amateur Boxing Association (IABA) whether or not he will be assigned to the Olympic Games.
Summers, who has been invited to numerous tune-up tournaments, has had to turn down two or three offers to officiate competitions this year including the Asian Continental Championships in August because he was on family vacation in Florida.
“If I took all the offers I’d have no annual leave left to go on vacation,” Summers said.
One thing is certain and that is he expects to be busy in Guadalajara.
He refereed 17 matches and judged another 82 at the Commonwealth Games and he anticipates a similar workload this time around.
Summers explained all officials will have a “sit down” with the IABA commissioners prior to the start of the competition at which time they will go over what’s expected.
“Some countries tend to score higher than others. It depends on what countries are represented among the officials,” he explained.
“It takes a session or two to adjust to where you fit in,” he added.
The boxing competition runs one week. Summers expects his first assignment in Guadalajara will be either Friday or Saturday.
Standards were changed recently, so as s a three-star referee certificate holder, Summers is one of only three officials in Canada who can do the Pan-Am, Commonwealth or Olympic Games.
He is the only Canadian boxing official at the PanAm Games.