The dean of California’s boxing and wrestling referees until his retirement earlier this year, Frank Manfredo estimates he officiated more than 3,500 matches in 35 years as "the third man in the ring."
Born in Tyler, Pennsylvania, January 28, 1893, Manfredo was a top boxer himself. A tough featherweight, he began his career in the Pittsburg area and won 14 out of his first 15 fights.
After moving to Fresno, Manfredo fought "bootleg" fights on ranches and in alfalfa fields; boxing was then illegal in California and bouts were held at times and places where the law was least likely to interfere.
One of Manfredo’s most cherished memories is a six-round fight with Kid Beebe, a Madera favorite, on a ranch in western Madera County. "It was 112 degrees in the shade," he recalled years later. "And I can tell you, we weren’t fighting in the shade."
Manfredo hung up his gloves in 1917 to handle his brother Ralph, also a top fighter. Shortly afterward, he began refereeing amateur boxing matches and in 1926, made his debut as a professional referee. During his officiating career, he drove an estimated 350,000 miles to referee boxing and wrestling matches in Central California.