When Lynne Carter set out to become a boxing judge, all she wanted to do was make it to Atlantic City.
“My goal was to get to Atlantic City,” said Carter, a Mount Airy resident. “That’s where all the big fights were.”
That was in 1982. Thirty-seven years later, Carter has gone well beyond her old goal: She has judged more than 750 boxing matches in six countries, including multiple world championship fights. She has judged fights involving Mike Tyson, Bernard Hopkins, Lennox Lewis and others.
On Wednesday, Carter, the first African-American woman to officiate professional fights in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey, was honored with the presentation of a City Liberty Bell from Mayor Jim Kenney for her success in the male-dominated sport.
“Her accomplishments are astounding and we’re so proud and honored to have that chance to honor this living legend,” Kenney said at ceremony in her honor in City Hall on Wednesday.
Carter got her start when she walked into former world heavyweight champion Joe Frazier’s old gym on Broad Street. She told Frazier then what she wanted to do. Frazier told her he didn’t know anything about judging a fight but he would show her what he knew about boxing.
She paid rapt attention, showed up every day (sometimes before, sometimes after her job with the city’s Streets Department), and “lived boxing.”
A few months later, Carter secured a New Jersey license. Six years later, on Feb. 6, 1988, Carter judged her first title fight, a 15-round unanimous decision victory by Greg Haugen over Vinny Pazienza for Pazienza’s IBF lightweight belt.
“It’s just been a great ride for me and it all started with Joe Frazier being kind enough to give me the opportunity,” Carter said. “It would have never happened if I didn’t ask and if he didn’t take the time to work with me.”
Being recognized by the boxing community is nothing new for Carter. Earlier this year, she was inducted into the Pennsylvania Boxing Hall of Fame. The New Jersey Hall of Fame opened its doors to her in 2012.
Frazier died in 2011 at the age of 67. However, his daughter, Jacquelyn Frazier-Lyde, spoke highly of one of her father’s famous mentees.
“Lynne Carter is an example of the greatness of every Philadelphian given an opportunity, and she is a product of Joe Frazier’s gym which sustains Philadelphia as the center of the boxing universe,” Frazier-Lyde said. “She is one of the best judges in the world, male or female.”
After 37 years, Carter says she is not finished.
“I’ve got a fight on the 29th in Rhode Island,” she said. “I’m having too much fun to stop. I’ll just show up and call it like I see it. Like I always do.”