Popular ref Davey Pearl passes away at 88

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On March 12, one of Las Vegas’
colorful figures — Boxing Hall of Fame referee David “Davey” Pearl
— died following a lengthy illness. He was 88.

Despite his 5 foot 4 inch size,
Pearl commanded great respect and affection from those who knew him in the sport
of boxing.

“I loved little Davey,”
said Michael Katz, GamingToday’s Hall of Fame boxing columnist.
“Not only was he a terrific referee, he was just a lovely guy as well. He
is one of the few people in boxing that I’ve never heard a harsh word spoken
of or by.”

Katz added that Pearl was truly
dedicated to boxing, first as a judge then as a referee.

“I know he either lied about
his age so he could continue working, or Nevada knew and decided it just didn’t
matter,” Katz said. “Even at 80, and as small as he was, he still had
the command necessary in the ring.”

Before his celebrated career as a
referee of more than 70 championship fights, Pearl took up boxing as part of a
self-defense program.

After five years in the armed
services, Pearl got a job judging professional fights. That led to referring,
although it was several years before he landed a title fight.

“I was doing mostly club
fights in Vegas, and they were always telling me I was too small to do a title
fight,” Pearl said in an earlier interview.

He finally got his chance to do a
title bout — a junior middleweight world championship, which he did a great
job refereeing.

It wasn’t long after that fight
that Pearl was asked to referee the Ali-Spinks fight in 1978. That one ignited
his career.

Because refereeing isn’t the
must lucrative of careers (Pearl said the most he ever received as a referee was
$1,500 for a fight, and when he received $1,000 for officiating Ali-Spinks, it
was the first four-figure check ever paid to a Nevada referee), he’s had to
rely on other sources of income.

Over the years, Pearl has worked
in casino bingo halls and operated bars in Las Vegas, including the popular
Davey’s Locker on East Desert Inn Road, which was a popular watering hole for
the local boxing crowd.

Davey Pearl is survived by his
wife, Janet. He was preceded in death by his twin brother, Lou, in 2004.

A memorial service was held last
Sunday at Temple Beth Am in Summerlin.

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