Hall of Fame Referee Steve “Double S” Smoger Passes!

By Boxing News - 12/20/2022 - Comments

By Ken Hissner: International Hall of Fame flags at half-staff with the passing of International Hall of Fame referee Steve “Double S” Smoger, who passed away recently at age 79.

A good referee and good friend passed away yesterday. He was Steve Smoger, who I knew since the early 1970’s when big-time boxing moved from Philadelphia to Atlantic City.

Steve started as an inspector with the New Jersey State Athletic Commission before becoming a referee. In his Hall of Fame speech in 2015 in Canastota, New York, he credited J Russell Peltz with helping him become a referee. Steve was “old school,” and he’d let fights play out, giving each man a chance. He never was too quick to jump in and stop what may have appeared –on the outside—to be a one-sided match. He let fighters fight.

It was ring announcer Ed Derian who first began calling Steve “Double S” in his ring introductions. “Your referee for this evening’s bout is Double S, Steve Smoger.”

Whenever I was involved with a card or with a fighter on someone else’s card, I knew I would get a fair shake, whether we were friends or not. He wouldn’t work against me, and he wouldn’t work in my favor, and that was all you can ask from any official in any sport.

Steve had been suffering from kidney-related issues for some time. Months ago, after I learned of Steve’s illness Al Valenti, a good friend of both of us, had me drop off my book at Steve’s home in Ventnor—maybe five blocks from mine. Valenti told me Steve’s wife, Trisha, would read excerpts to him from my book, and it brightened his day. I’ll never forget that.

I remember being in the fighters’ dressing room one night years ago, maybe at the Sands in Bethlehem, when Steve was giving his pre-fight instructions. When he finished, I said, “Steve, the fighter scoring the knockdown does not go to the furthest neutral corner.” He looked at me and said, “Yes, he does.”

That’s when I told him that “the fighter scoring the knockdown goes to the FARTHEST neutral corner.” He never forgot that, and we’d joke about it at every fight he worked.

Steve Smoger will be missed by boxing fans and by those of us who could truly call him a friend.

The above was said by IBHOF promoter J Russell Peltz.

I had the privilege of assigning Steve too many fights and always felt that the boxers were not just in good but great hands. Steve loved boxing. Along with his wife and daughter, it was his life. He was outgoing, full of life, and loved to travel, which he did a lot of as he refereed championship fights all over the world. A dear friend is gone.

He will not be forgotten.

Ron Stevens said the above.

I personally had a run-in win with Steve Smoger in an event in New Jersey, and we made up almost immediately. For years I urged the International Boxing Hall of Fame to induct him, and they finally did in 2015.

Smoger was a judge from 1986 to 2021 in some 53 bouts. He was a referee from 1984 to 2018. He was a supervisor in 2021. He was a referee for 1051 bouts with over 200 world title bouts such as Pavlik-Taylor 1, Ward and Augustus, Trinidad-Hopkins, and Forrest-Mosley 1, James “Lights Out” Toney, and Mike “Body Snatcher” McCallum. He worked in countries such as Germany, Argentina, Thailand, Japan, China, and Italy.

Double S was born August 15, 1943 (Commissioner Larry Hazzard of NJ said he was born in 1943, making him 79 though widely reported he passed away at the age of 72.

“Sorry to hear about Steve, and he was as straight as an arrow and a good judge, too, “said boxing’s first female judge Carl Sharp-Polis.
Smoger was born in Norfolk, Virginia, and raised in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He graduated from Penn State University and earned his Juris Doctor from George Washington University. He became Atlantic City’s first full-time city prosecutor in 1980 and served in the US Air Force Reserves for three decades.

“Steve was a true professional. He took his job as a referee very seriously. He would always let the fighters fit it out. Never too quick to jump in and stop a fight too early. Ya knew if he was the 3rd man in the ring, the fighter would get a fair shake, and as a cutman, I never had to worry he might want to stop the fight and not let me work my magic. He helped make epic battles even more memorable.

In my opinion, Steve Smoger and Frank Cappuccino were the two best referees of my time. Steve was a one-of-a-kind character; we got along great whenever he would. We would travel together to fights in the US and overseas. We have lost a legend in the boxing world, R.I.P. S.S.” said AB HOF and NJ HOF Cutman Joey Eye Intrieri.

“I thought that Steve Smoger was a fine referee ranking among the best in the sport. As New Jersey Commissioner, I never had any reservations about assigning him to a major bout while he was licensed here. He also had a very likable and pleasant personality that made it delightful to be in his presence. He will be greatly missed, and my sincere condolences to his family and friends,” said NJ Commissioner Larry Hazzard.