Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Rocky's Ring: Burke an El Paso Hall of Famer

By Jason Groves jgroves@lcsun-news.com
Posted:   06/11/2012 06:17:57 PM MDT
Courtesy of Las Cruces Sun-News
Original Article: Here

LAS CRUCES - A good boxing official goes unnoticed during the course of a fight.
Throughout the course of a career is a different matter.
Rocky Burke has made his living in the ring, earning induction into the El Paso Boxing-Martial Arts Hall of Fame on Saturday.

"I'm really proud of my brother," said trainer Louie Burke, Rocky's brother and also inducted on Saturday. "I think he is one of the best referees in the world. Being from Las Cruces, it's hard to break into the big megafights. The thing about a good referee is that you don't see them. You get a lot of these referees that think they are part of the show."

Rocky Burke has been officiating fights for roughly 20 years, finally finding a way to stay connected to the sport that defines the Burke family.

Burke got off to a 7-0 start as a professional before life got in the way. He worked for his father, Sammy Burke, for Burke Outdoor Adverting and was also working for Newman Outdoor Advertising.

"I had three stressful fulltime jobs and it was too much, more than ever before," he said.

Burke stepped out of the ring as a fighter in 1981, just as Louie Burke's career was on the rise.

Burke helped train and manage his younger brother's career as well as other fighters from the area.

"Rocky knows the fight game as good an anyone out there," said Lorenzo Saiz, a fellow referee from Las Cruces who has been in the ring for 20 years. "No. 1, he was a fighter. He was also my manager when I was fighting professional and now he's an official. Everything to do with the business, he has done it."

Rocky Burke continued in boxing as a judge before finally returning to the ring as an official, where he has traveled the world and refereed several world title fights.

"I have been fortunate to travel to different countries, a lot of fights in Mexico because I speak Spanish," Rocky Burke said. "As a boxer, I know what fighters go through. I can look in their eyes and see if they are hurt or if they have something left."

Among the memorable fights Burke has officiated was Johnny Tapia's fight against Javier Torres in 2000 at the Pan American Center on Showtime.

Gaining entry into the El Paso Boxing Hall of Fame was significant for the Burke family. Rocky Burke's officiating career continues on Saturday as he will officiated an undercard bout on the Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.,/Andy Lee card at the Sun Bowl.

"It's special that our neighbors to the south have given us some recognition because I don't think the northern part of the state likes to recognize us in any sport," Rocky Burke said.

Sammy Burke, Louie Burke and Rocky Burke were each inducted on Saturday, marking a special day for a family that continues to contribute to boxing in the area.

"I started coaching kids before I even turned professional," said Louie Burke, who was inducted into the California Boxing Hall of Fame last summer. "My dad felt for me to improve as a boxer, it was important for me to learn how to coach. My dad (Sammy Burke) had a lot of stories on the old timers who were inducted into the Hall of Fame who I was there with Saturday. They were guys who I tried to emulate and copy and a lot of them voted for me to be in the Hall of Fame."

Jason Groves can be reached at (575) 541-5459. Follow him on Twitter @jpgroves.


tom mckay said...

Superb story on the Burkes. Have a happy

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