of the highest level international amateur boxing referees and
judges is Peter Shepherd, and he lives in Chiang Mai. Peter is
also much more than just a man judging technically from outside
the ropes, he is an ex-amateur boxer himself who fought 64
bouts, winning 59 of them. (Of the five he lost, four were to
the same chap, an Olympic gold medallist, so he has really only
lost to two people!)
Peter was born in London, and despite his
trim figure these days, he was exceptionally well fed as a
youngster. His father was the head chef at the Cumberland and
He went to some of the best schools, so his
interest in pugilism did not come from needing to defend himself
from back street gangs in the rough end of town. He excelled at
mathematics, and did a little boxing at school, but his love at
that stage was photography.
This was such that he left school after his
“O” levels to become a trainee photographer. Peter was on
his way to become the next Norman Parkinson, the doyen of
British photography. Unfortunately Britain had other ideas for
the young man, as after looking through the lens for six months
he was called up for National Service.
His next decision was the one that was to
dictate his future direction, far more than he could ever have
imagined. Rather than just do the minimum period, he opted to
join up for four years. “This way you could choose your
direction, so I went in to be a physical training instructor
with the RAF. The four years eventually stretched to ten!”
During this time in the RAF, Peter also found
that he was a natural athlete. He was ranked fifth in the UK in
the triple jump, played top class hockey, but boxing became his
main sport. “I had good coaching and hit the top quite
quickly,” said Peter. He boxed internationally and got to the
semi-finals of the Amateur Boxing Association (ABA)
championships, where he fought in the lightweight (up to 60 kg)
category. “I’m only 62 kg now,” said Peter rather proudly!
Whilst the services did allow (and encourage)
such pursuits, there was also a down side (there always is,
isn’t there)! He was posted to Cyprus during the terrorist
activity there, there was no gymnasium for him to train, and
then his best friend was blown up. His family applied pressure
for him to come home, and so after ten years he returned to
He had no real idea of what he wanted to do,
but when a sporting paper had an opening, he took that.
Unfortunately the paper folded (not just in the middle but
totally) in nine months!
Remembering his interest in photography he
took a job as the staff photographer for an engineering company,
and whilst he was there started a boxing club for the firm.
Boxing was still his prime interest.
His next career move dated back to one of his
mates from his teenage years, a singer by the name of Ray
Davies. Yes, the same Ray Davies who was the front man for The
Kinks (“Lola” and other chart toppers). Ray knew that Peter
had a good voice and suggested he look at being a
singer/compere. This resulted in his joining the Batley Variety
Club in Yorkshire, where he stayed for the next five years!
However, after that period of time, working
nights only, he knew that he had to get out. A serendipitous
meeting with a chap who was opening a leisure centre resulted in
Peter agreeing to run it for him. The position looked easy
enough. It was a small place employing a staff of three.
That did not last long. Within three years
Peter had expanded the business into a 3,000 square meter
building, which included a snooker club, a children’s theme
park, restaurant, bar and poker machines. He also needed more
staff, and by the time he left 18 years later, the leisure
centre had a staff of more than 60. He was also involved in
local charities and even organized a ‘dartathon’ in the
One of the reasons he left was that he had an
accident at work, fracturing his spine and his neck. For the
final three years Peter described himself as hobbling. It was
time to get away from the cold of the UK. He returned to Cyprus.
He found there was no boxing on the island,
but found a gymnasium. There he started a boxing club, the
forerunner of the six that exist there today. He trained the
local boys, who are now doing well internationally, and at the
same time did a judges course himself with the Amateur
International Boxing Association (AIBA), joining a very select
group, in which Peter is ranked number 8 in the world.
His judging and refereeing was then to take
him all over the globe, where he judged two world championships,
two Commonwealth Games and was even chosen for the Olympics. One
of those events was in KL, and he came up to Thailand for a
vacation, and in his words, “I fell in love with Chiang
He had been in Cyprus for 14 years by that
time, and Peter was ready for the move. That move was to
Thailand and Chiang Mai.
Here he is still keeping himself fit, because
like all sportsmen, they never ‘really’ retire. “There’s
still one more fight left,” said Peter. I asked him whether he
had ever been injured boxing, but he replied that amateur boxing
required more technical ability than strength. “I’ve never
been hurt in boxing, but I’ve been hospitalized twice playing
hockey,” he said grinning.
So the keen amateur boxer, turned referee and judge, is
definitely not ready to hang up his gloves (or his judge’s bow
tie), and is also ready to become involved in local charity work
in his new home - Chiang Mai.