Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

10: This Woman's a Knockout (Arbiter)

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

10: This Woman's a Knockout (Arbiter)

Article excerpt

Gail Wilson, mother of five and grandmother of four, wasn't looking for a fight when she became an amateur boxing referee.

She just wanted to help some young athletes who have a tough go nowadays, even by their own underprivileged standards.

Other than scantily clad ring girls, Wilson is the first woman noncombatant to work in a local boxing ring.

Jeridean Hamm broke the gender barrier for boxing judges here about 15 years ago. Since then, a dozen women have judged at ringside, including Wilson for the past two years.

Women such as Faye Millett of Pagedale, mother of former amateur champ Tramp Millett, have coached the corners for years.

And women began boxing in the local Golden Gloves two years ago.

Yet until Wilson, no female had stepped up into the ring to referee.

Wilson, 47, bumped into the sport belatedly: "My boyfriend, Dan Rutledge, had three boys boxing at the Eagles Club in Mehlville. I decided to get involved because I think it's a wonderful program. These coaches go out and pick these kids up and bring them to the gym to get them off the streets, just to help them."

Her enthusiasm was hard to duck.

"Somebody asked me if I wanted to judge," Wilson said, "so I started that. Then they said, `Why don't you ref?' So I started going to the gym every night when the boys were sparring. Craig Aldridge put me in with them and worked with me. And Doug McLean was real good about telling the boys to do different infractions to see if I would catch them."

Aldridge is a local referee. McLean is an Eagles coach.

Last December, Wilson made her referee debut on a boxing card in Cape Girardeau. She was nervous until her colleagues knocked the jitters out of her with typical fistic tact.

"After the first round," she said, "the judges yelled, `Gail!' And they pointed to their pants like, `Your fly's open!' It wasn't mean. I was glad they did it. They just wanted me to relax."

Wilson was asked to work the National Silver Gloves Tournament in Lenexa, Kan. …

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