Carmen Williamson, 82, poses with his Olympic gold medal which he received for being named the 'top official' during the '84 Games.
Carmen Williamson wanted badly to fight in the Olympics during his day as a young and talented pugilist growing up in inner-city Toledo.
He yearned for an Olympic gold medal.
Despite winning five straight Ohio Amateur Athletic Association state championships as a 112-pound flyweight from 1949 to 1953, Williamson was never Olympic caliber.
That is, until the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics when he found his way to participate in the '84 Games as a boxing referee.
Frankly, he made the most of the opportunity and showed out in the ring with respect to doing his job quite efficiently and effectively. His command of the ring during his fights earned him status as "the top official" at the 1984 Olympics. He was also presented with an Olympic gold medal for his officiating performance, which was determined by Olympic officials designated to rate and judge other officials for their work.
Williamson returned from L.A. back to Toledo with the same kind of gold medal won by sprinter Carl Lewis, who picked up four gold medals of his own at the '84 Games.
"I still have that gold medal, and I got that because I was the outstanding referee of the Games," said the 82-year-old Williamson.
Twenty-eight years have passed since he worked as an official at the L.A. Olympics where he was one of only four boxing referees from the United States to officiate. The opportunity came about after years of honing his craft as a boxing referee following a successful amateur boxing career in which he recorded a 250-14 career record.
Over time he found just as much appreciation for being in the ring as a referee -- monitoring bouts -- than as an individual in the ring throwing punches. It led to him being considered one of the country's top boxing officials for amateur bouts.
For three decades he spent time as a member of the Amateur International Boxing Association, which represents U.S. amateur boxing judges and referees who represent the U.S. at boxing events and competitions across the globe.
Williamson has traveled the world due to his involvement as a boxing referee.
"I still officiate and teach others that are coming up in officiating," he said. "I've made it to 58 countries to teach others coming up in amateur boxing."
Officiating in the ring has resulted in trips to places like various countries in Africa, Sweden, Denmark, and Russia to name a few.
Ironically, his most memorable experience as a boxing official took place right in his own country. Williamson said he didn't even know Olympic officials could earn a medal until the boxing competition at the '84 Olympics.
"The executive staff members from other countries judged the proficiency of the officials," Williamson said. "You are under as much stress as the actual boxers. If you're not sharp, you're not elevated into the top three for the gold, silver, and bronze. I got the gold. I achieved, and I'm proud of it."
Williamson admits he felt honored for being named the top official and receiving a gold medal.
"The gold medal means that I have achieved a level of participation in amateur boxing that says I'm the best in the world," he said.
Surprisingly, his Olympic hardware is not his most cherished item even though it's kept in a secure and safe place.
"The most prized possession that I have is the pure ivory boxing sculpture I have from Malawi," Williamson said. "The gold medal is No. 2."
The ivory sculpture was given to him while on a trip as a boxing official in Africa. It came from a young African sculptor in exchange for one of his nylon shirts. Williamson watched the artist carve and chisel away at a piece of ivory until it took the shape of a boxer.
Nonetheless, Williamson considers both items priceless because they're the results of his involvement with boxing as an official.
Contact Donald Emmons at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6302 or on Twitter @DemmonsBlade
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