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USA Today Sports

Retired boxing referee reveals outrageous bribery attempt: “Heard a knock at the door”

✔ "I fear Olympic boxing is doomed"

Retired boxing referee Bill Phillips recently lifted the lid on the bribery attempts and corruption that he experienced during his time officiating for the Olympics.

73-year-old Phillips got the opportunity of a lifetime when he was selected to officiate the Olympic games in Beijing, the first Brit in 24 years to receive the honour. His initial excitement soon soured when he discovered a world of corruption and bribes in the sport. Phillip’s worst experience came in Kazakhstan, where he claims that the bribery attempts started in the form of prostitutes knocking on his door.

“I was still unpacking when I heard a knock at the door,” Phillips told The Times. “So I open it and a young girl, absolutely stunning, is standing there. ‘Mr Phillips,’ she knew my name, ‘I’ve come to keep you company.’ I said, ‘No, I’m okay, thank you.’ So she went. Then about an hour or two later, two came to the door. I started laughing. I said, ‘I can’t handle one, let alone two.’

“I’ve been married for 48 years. I have two sons and eight grandchildren. But that wasn’t the only reason for saying no. It’s a bribe, isn’t it? You’re in their pocket. I don’t need all that crap. I’ve been lucky to have good jobs. I also like to be able to sleep at night.”

During his time in Kazakhstan Phillips was also offered $500 in cash, neatly tucked away in an envelope, and an invitation to a banquet which featured several naked women. He refused both the money and the invite, not only because he is and was a married man, but also because he could never compromise the welfare of the boxers in his care. Through officiating 30,000 bouts, no boxer in his care has ever had to spend the night after their bout in the hospital, Phillips claims.

The corruption in boxing is something he believes is too deeply ingrained to ever be solved.

“I fear Olympic boxing is doomed. I can’t even watch the Olympic boxing on the TV.”

Kazakhstan was neither the first nor the last time that someone tried to buy Phillips off. Back in 1996, a man who tried to bribe him was later found assassinated in a bathtub.


Do you believe that boxing is a corrupt sport?



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