A final 10-count has been given to Vernon’s Ian Gibson.
The B.C. Boxing Hall of Fame referee died at his home Sunday, Dec. 20, at the age of 85 after an illness.
Named to the hall as a builder in the sweet science in 2012, Gibson moved to Vernon in 1975 from the tiny Scottish community of Kirkconnel, where he’d been a miner and amateur boxer. He offered to help legendary Vernon boxing coach Don MacDonald coach the Vernon Boxing Club. MacDonald politely refused, instead asking Gibson if he would referee and judge.
The two men were enshrined together in the Okanagan Sports Hall of Fame in 2013.
“I spent 33 years driving around B.C. with Don MacDonald,” said Gibson in a 2013 interview with Morning Star sports editor Kevin Mitchell. “You should have seen some of the motels we stayed in. You wouldn’t let beggars stay in them. We would have four boxers with us and two would sleep on the floor, Don would have his own bed and I’d be on the couch.”
Gibson, a retired Riverside Forest Products employee, officiated more than 4,000 bouts and was respected as one of Canada’s premier referees.
“I had a 20-minute lecture on how to referee from Freddie Fuller from Vancouver and I got thrown into the ring at the rec centre,” laughed Gibson. “I stopped two bouts that night and Freddy was happy as hell with me for a change. I enjoyed it very much; it was quite an experience.”
He worked his first B.C. Championships in 1977 at the PNE Gardens in Vancouver, returning to officiate the Golden Gloves the same year. He studied for various classes and earned his national ticket in 1987 when he manned the ring in Sydney, N.S.
In a 2005 Morning Star article, MacDonald said of Gibson: “He’s a good official. He looks after the fighters very well. He’s fair and they don’t get hurt when he’s in there if he can help it.”
Gibson refereed the first girls fight in Kelowna, in 1995, and put the first female referee in the ring in Kamloops two years prior.
Gibby, as he was affectionately known in boxing and soccer circles, served as Chief of Officials in B.C. and received the Harold Mann Boxing Achievement, a seal of approval from members all over the province.
Gibson, John Zinz and Al Hodson formed the Vernon Women’s Soccer League in 1976. Gibson coached and refereed for many years, always offering advice and encouragement to young officials.
“I refereed an oldtimers game on a Thursday night three years ago when I was 75,” said Gibson in 2013. “The referee didn’t show up and they asked me to help out. My whistle’s in the van all the time.”
He was the president of the Vernon Soccer Referees Association, a mentor for the younger officials and a valuable member of numerous discipline committees.
“I worked alongside Ian at NOYSA (North Okanagan Youth Soccer Association) for the better part of 15 years and he was a faithful, dedicated volunteer,” wrote Dawn Lemiski in a Facebook tribute to Gibson. “My deepest condolences to a terrific man who loved his family dearly and who made the soccer and boxing world his extended family.”
Gibson started the indoor league in 1976 and a year later, was asked by Bob Scott and Jim Domokos to create a city league while attending a hockey game at the old Vernon Civic Arena.
“Bob Scott and Jim Domokos walked up to me and said ‘You’re the new president of our men’s soccer league.’ I wasn’t asked. I was told,” said Gibson, during his Okanagan Sports Hall of Fame acceptance speech. “I’ve enjoyed every minute of it and I want to say thanks to my wife (Elizabeth) and two kids (Ian Jr. and Beth) for putting up with me.”
The North Okanagan Men’s Soccer League’s playoff championship trophy, the Gibson Cup, is named after the longtime soccer supporter.