Raymond Leroy Klingmeyer, a former boxer and referee who is a member of the state's boxing Hall of Fame, died Friday of renal failure at the Bel Air Health and Rehabilitation Center. He was 88.
"When he came into the ring, he looked like a referee. He had a presence, like an old-time referee … that commanded the respect of the boxers," said Patrick Pannella, executive director of the Maryland State Athletic Commission.
"He was knowledgeable about any possible event that could happen in the ring," Mr. Pannella said. "He was very respectful of the fighters and deeply committed to their safety and well-being."
Mr. Klingmeyer was born in Baltimore, the son of William and Helen Klingmeyer. His desire to become a boxer was ignited as a youngster while listening to a radio broadcast of Max Baer winning the world heavyweight championship in 1934, according to a profile published by the Maryland Boxing Hall of Fame in 1976, when he was inducted into the organization.
He fought as an amateur during his teen years and graduated from Southern High School in February 1943. He joined the Marine Corps just shy of his 18th birthday and became a member of the elite boxing team at Cherry Point Marine Air Base, N.C. where, in 1944, he won the base lightweight championship.
Mr. Klingmeyer requested to be sent overseas and in 1945 served as part of the occupational forces in Yokosuka, Japan, according to the Hall of Fame. By the time of Sgt. Klingmeyer's discharge in May 1946, he had fought in 70 amateur bouts, winning 55 and losing 15. Later that same year, he became a professional welterweight fighter.
He and his wife, the former Bess Simmont, grew up blocks apart in the Baltimore neighborhood of Pigtown. The couple married in May 1947 and eventually moved to Bel Air, according to their oldest son, Bruce Klingmeyer.
Boxing was a part-time profession. Mr. Klingmeyer worked full-time in sales, spending the last half of his career as the sales manager for Georgia-Pacific Corp. in the Baltimore region, his son said. He retired in the late 1980s.
"He was very friendly. He was outgoing," Bruce Klingmeyer said. "He would do anything he could to help you."
Mr. Klingmeyer was helping a friend with a construction project, when he injured his arm with a circular saw, his son said. That ended his pro career as a boxer in 1951, with a record of 39 wins, 8 losses and 3 draws. He then spent many years as a referee and judge.
Most notably, he was one of the judges in the 1977 heavyweight championship bout between Muhammad Ali and Alfredo Evangelista, and he refereed the 1995 International Boxing Federation world junior middleweight title fight between Vincent Pettway and Simon Brown.
Frank Gilbert, a boxing trainer in Baltimore County, said the selection of Mr. Klingmeyer as a world championship referee is testament to his officiating skills.
"There are not too many officials in Baltimore who got that honor," Mr. Gilbert said.
Lou Leavey, a retired boxing coach in Harford County and a current inspector with the Maryland State Athletic Commission, said Mr. Klingmeyer's deep knowledge of the sport and his experience as a boxer made him a top referee.
"He knew what the fighters were going through. He knew if a fighter was hurt, whether he could continue. That's important. You have to know when to stop a fight," Mr. Leavey said. "You don't want to stop a fight prematurely. It's not fair to the fighter. … It takes the referee to know if he's capable."
Over the years, Mr. Klingmeyer served in various positions with local boxing organizations and was the chief officer of referees and judges for the state athletic commission. He stopped refereeing in 1996 because of failing eyesight.
Among his other interests, Mr. Klingmeyer enjoyed golf and taught himself how to play the harmonica, his son said. He also was an avid amateur radio operator, talking or sending Morse code messages to others around the world.
"There is a giant antenna on top of the house right now," Bruce Klingmeyer said.
A viewing is scheduled for Monday from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Schimunek Funeral Home, 610 MacPhail Road, in Bel Air, with services immediately following.
In addition to his son, Mr. Klingmeyer is survived by his wife in Bel Air; a sister, Mildred Day of Baltimore; and a grandson. He was preceded in death by a brother, William Klingmeyer, a son, Kenneth, and a grandson.Copyright © 2015, CT Now