published Saturday, March 23rd, 2013

Reeses honored for boxing contributions

Although having to drop "Golden Gloves" from the name in light of new restrictions about the national organization's brand, the Chattanooga Boxing Championships carried on Friday night with special attention to the event's history.

That history continues tonight at 6 with a bigger group of bouts at the Chattanooga Convention Center. Tickets cost $10, or $5 for ages 12 and younger.

In reminding the spectators and participants that this is the 78th edition of the city championships, event director Joe Smith emphasized that it is the longest-running "continuous" sporting event in Chattanooga. And then he made a special presentation to a three-generation family that continues to make the history happen.

Harrison resident Gene Reese, his son Gene Jr. (Butch) and his grandson Shawn were honored for their work as judges and referees, and Gene's wife Janis was included for her timekeeping and clerk service in matches both local and far away.

Shawn Reese is the chief of officials for USA Boxing's Southeastern Association. He worked beside Ring 1 with his dad in the first bout of the night and later refereed bouts. His grandfather also carried out both jobs, as he often does still at age 82.

That's right. The Reeses' part in Chattanooga's boxing history is simultaneous -- not one generation at a time. Gene long was one of the top-ranked officials in the international association, and he, Shawn and Janis have worked multiple national events together.

"Gene Reese has been all over the world as an amateur boxing official, and he's still a very good official at 82 years young," said Smith, who has been a USA Boxing vice president and managed the United States team in the Beijing Olympics.

The patriarch of the Reese clan also was the winner of the most famous fight in Chattanooga history, and his defeat of a bodybuilder strongman Richard Bachus before about 4,500 fans in 1960 was referenced by not only Smith but also longtime Red Bank boxing coach Skipper Fairbanks and Jackie Godwin during the special presentation.

Godwin attended that fight with his father and began boxing a year later. Fairbanks, who started boxing in 1948 and began coaching in 1955, was Gene Reese's second during the famous fight.

"Everywhere I go around here, people still ask me about it," Reese said.

His grandson, a captain in the Chattanooga Fire Department, has been officiating 12 years, "but a lot of that time was just once or twice a year," Shawn said. "I've been working on the national level four years.

"You get to meet a lot of people and see kids become great in the sport and move up, but on the local level I like hanging around Joe and Andy [Smith, Joe's son] and see the difference boxing and their Y-CAP program makes in kids' lives.

"They're an inspiration to me, and of course Pappaw is. I got into it the same reason Daddy did, I guess, because they always needed help, and it was a way to be around my grandfather and give back some of what he always did for me."

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