George Siler was perhaps the most famous of all the referees. He started officiating in the bare-knuckle days when fights were for side bets and the admirers of each warrior backed their choices heavily. When the decision went against their man, the losers usually were wrathy, put much of the blame for defeat on the referee, and the ring arbiters of those years led a zestful and interesting life.
Siler, who refereed for about three decades, was the hero of many hair-breadth escapes, with his bravery and resourcefulness carrying him out of the zone of physical danger.
Siler refereed in thousands of bouts and, in his heyday, always was the first choice of fighters going into battle with the title at stake. Those men respected Siler, not merely for his splendid ring judgment, but also because of his rugged honesty.
Prof. John Duffy was another old-timer who was a favorite among the boxers. He refereed the Sullivan-Corbett fight in New Orleans in 1892 and many of the later-day battles in which Bob Fitzsimmons figured. John Fitzpatrick of New Orleans was the referee for the last of the bare-knuckle heavyweight bouts-the one between John L. Sullivan and Jake Kilrain in 1889.
Al Smith of New York, Captain Bill Daley of Boston, Colonel Alexander Brewster, Billy Mahoney, Billy Tate, Wyatt Earp, who usually went into the ring with a gun in his holster; Hiram Cook and Bob Lynd were famous in their time.