Famed referee Ruby Goldstein also had a distinguished career as a fighter. Born on the East Side of New York in 1907, Goldstein learned to box at the Henry Street Settlement House and started boxing in amateur tournaments at the age of sixteen. He turned pro in 1925 with a second-round knockout of Al Vano. He was nicknamed "The Jewel of the Ghetto."
Goldstein won his first 23 fights before Ace Hudkins knocked him out and he compiled an early record of 50 wins in 55 bouts. However, after losing five fights by knockout, including one to Hall of Famer Jimmy McLarnin, Goldstein realized that he didn't have what it took to become a champion. Nevertheless, he continued to fight until 1937, retiring after winning a decision over Kid Bon Bon.
After leaving the ring, Goldstein remained on the fringes of boxing, and he also managed a pool hall. He started to referee while in the Army during World War II. He served as referee when Joe Louis fought exhibitions at military installations.
After his discharge, Goldstein continued to officiate. His first heavyweight title fight was the first Joe Louis-Jersey Joe Walcott match. Goldstein scored the fight for Walcott, while the two judges scored the fight in Louis's favor. Many observers thought that Walcott had won. When Louis was asked about Goldstein's scoring, he replied, "I know Ruby. He calls 'em like he sees 'em."
Louis's comment helped build Goldstein's reputation and, from then on, he officiated at many important fights, including the first Zale-Graziano match and the Robinson-Maxim light heavyweight championship fight (where the 104° heat conquered Goldstein in the tenth round and Robinson in the fourteenth). Goldstein officiated for the Emile Griffith-Benny (Kid) Paret fight in which Paret was killed in the ring. That event bothered Goldstein greatly and he retired after working one more fight.
Goldstein worked for longtime employer Schenley Distillers and wrote a column for The Ring, before retiring to Miami Beach. He died on April 22, 1984.
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Excerpted with permission from 'The Boxing Register' by James B. Roberts and Alexander G. Skutt, copyright © 1999 by McBooks Press. All rights reserved.
Born: Oct. 7, 1907
Died: April 22, 1984