Arthur Mercante Sr., whose face dominated professional boxing during his 47 years as a professional referee between 1954 and 2001, died in his sleep in Westbury, Long Island , on April 10, 2010.
During his International Boxing Hall of Fame career, he refereed 120 title bouts. Before that, he served in the U.S Navy under commanding officer Gene Tunney, the former heavyweight champion.
Mercante grew up in Brockton, Massachusetts, and was friends with Rocky Marciano's family. Later Mercante and Marciano feuded in their business relationship over a budding boxing series which Marciano took creative control over.
Mercante wrote his life story with Phil Guarnieri in "Arthur Mercante: Inside The Ropes".
Some of the most notable moments in Mercante's career came when he refereed the rematch between Floyd Patterson and Ingemar Johansson, when Patterson became the first former heavyweight champion to regain the title. He also was the referee for the first Joe Frazier - Muhammad Ali title fight, and counted over Ali after Frazier knocked Ali down in the fifteenth and final round.
Less well known was Mercante's day job, as a salesman for Schaefer Brewing Company. Of his four sons, only one Arthur Mercante Jr., followed his father's footsteps as a referee.
Mercante Sr. refereed his last bout when unbeaten IBF Junior Flyweight Champion Ricardo Lopez stopped Zolani Petelo in the eighth round at Madison Square Garden on September 29, 2001, a few weeks after the 9/11 tragedy in New York City.
Arthur Mercante was an icon to the sport of boxing and will be greatly missed. Rest in peace.
Boxing News Tags: Arthur Mercante Sr