Big John McCarthy Training Manitoba Judges


MMA fans and fighters are very critical of MMA  judges and the commissions who hire them.  When we see a bad decision, such as the the recent Shogun/Machida decision, everyone screams loudly, ‘ How can the decision go to Machida?’ or ‘Shogun got robbed?’  In many instances, it appears judges do not understand the intricacies of MMA and often reward certain techniques, like a takedown, more points than other techniques, like a submission attempt or leg kick.

Big John McCarthy was equally frustrated with judging.  He was quoted saying that judging was a big part of his decision earlier in his career to retire as an official:

“I walked away because I was frustrated. I was frustrated with the way some things were being handled. I didn’t believe that there were people being put into positions that had the ability to judge fights or referee fights, that knew what they were doing. That bothered me. It bothered me because I’m looking at a judge that is gonna judge a fighter’s fight and he doesn’t understand what those fighters are doing. And this person has the ability to affect the fighter’s livelyhood. And it’s wrong. And I felt like a hypocrite because I worked for the commission and they were allowing this kind of person to be in a position of power and to have that say over who’s going to win the fight. I just didn’t want to be part of that.

It just upset me to the point where I didn’t want to do this anymore. I love the refereeing. I love doing that. It’s just people that are out there, they just don’t know what is going on in a fight. Fighters are doing things on the ground, they have no concept of what is taking place. They really don’t understand who is in control of the fight. They don’t understand the techniques that are being applied. And if you don’t understand that, how are you able to make an educated judgment on who wins that fight?”

With no official training courses available, John McCarthy went and designed his own COMMAND course for MMA referees and judges.   Big John previously brought his COMMAND Referee course to River Cree earlier this year and now he is bringing his Judging course to Winnipeg at the request of the Manitoba Boxing Commission.

Commissions take a lot of criticism from Top MMA News, but when one does a good job, our site needs to point that out as well.  The Manitoba Boxing Commission has taken the lead in Canada in referee and judges training by requiring all of their officials to take Big John’s COMMAND course. 

Joel Fingard, a consultant to the Manitoba Boxing Commission, was instrumental in bringing the COMMAND judges course to Winnipeg.  He states, “The Manitoba Commission is looking at a policy requiring all Refs and Judges to be certified.” However, the Association of Boxing Commissions has not officially recognized any courses. With no official standard, Manitoba chose the COMMAND course.  As Fingard says, “We chose the COMMAND course based on the criteria and the reputation of John McCarthy.”

This continues a very proactive trend for the Manitoba Commission.  They were the only commission in Canada to have all the referees on one card, CFC 2, to have passed John McCarthy’s officiating course.  They have also flew in Yves Lavigne for CFC 2 and now Big John to teach his course and officiate CFC 3.

Manitoba clearly goes above and beyond the current standard for officials’ training which is great for all fighters and fans of Winnipeg promotions.  As Fingard states,

“Manitoba Boxing Commission is a huge supporter of training and believes it does more training than any other Commission in Canada at this time. Officials are being trained because we believe that in order to expect them to do a good competent job they must have the tools and the knowledge. We have sent two of our refs to Big John’s training academy in California and they not only passed there first attempt (as you know the Ref certification has a very high failure rate) but they also came back from learning from arguably one of the best officials in the sport of MMA. Manitoba will continue its policy to provide training opportunities to our officials.”

The Edmonton Commission will also be auditing the Winnipeg course in hopes of bringing COMMAND to Edmonton in the future.

2 Responses to “ Big John McCarthy Training Manitoba Judges ”

  1. Brian Beauchamp says:

    Hi There
    Great article
    but its not true, Manitoba is not the only commission to have all there referees Command certified by Big John and use them at there events. The River Cree Commission was the first and all referees at MFC events are command certifed. Sorry but true.

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  2. This isn’t what i was told by Elaine at the time of the May event. There were only 4 certified refs in Canada under the system then.

    River Cree has done awesome work, and has brought Big John in where a number of people have been certified, but that was after the May 22nd date of CFC 2.

    At the time the information was accurate.

    I’m a big fan of the work Dale has done with River Cree.

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