Legendary Boxing Judge Harold Lederman Dies at 79 After Battling Cancer

By Tiffany Meier

Hall of Famer and boxing judge Harold Lederman passed away over the weekend after battling cancer. He was 79.

Lederman died in the morning on May 11, HBO confirmed in a statement. For more than 30 years, he was the unofficial scorer on HBO Sports broadcast, where he enthusiastically educated a whole generation on the intricacies of scoring in boxing.

“Harold Lederman had a lifelong love affair with the sport of boxing,” HBO Sports executive vice president Peter Nelson said in the statement. “Over the past fifty years, he was universally respected and celebrated by the many people who make the sport what it is. Harold was happiest when seated ringside, studying the action and scoring the fight.”

Lederman began judging boxing professionally in the late 1960s when he judged over “100 world title fights on six continents,” according to ESPN.

“When he joined HBO Sports in 1986, he added a new and critical component to live boxing coverage,” Nelson said in his statement. “Viewers embraced his unique style and his command of the rules, while his broadcast colleagues relished his enthusiasm and boundless energy.”

A graduate from Columbia University, Lederman worked as a pharmacist in New York, but managed to find time to watch and judge boxing matches.

Nelson added that Lederman “was a historian and walking rulebook. He always had time for you whether you were a heavyweight champion or just a spectator looking to say hello. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Eileen and daughters Julie and Iris. There isn’t a person in the sport who won’t miss our Harold Lederman.”

Lederman’s passion for the sport was contagious amongst his listeners, and he was known for beginning his deliveries with some variation of “Okay Jim, I gotta tell you something,” in the direction of HBO Sports commentator Jim Lampley.

Following Lederman’s passing, Lampley also released a statement.

“It was one of the greatest privileges of my broadcasting career to work with Harold Lederman, whose unique humanity and lifelong love of boxing brought joy to the hearts of millions of fans, show after show after show,” he said in a statement. “They waited for his moments, they were thrilled by his insights, they gloried in imitating his voice. No one in the sport had more friends, because no one in the sport was more deserving of friends.”

He added, “As deeply saddened as I am by his passing, I am equally deeply joyful that he made it to the final bell on December 8. Nothing was more important to the legacy of HBO Boxing, so in that we can all take solace. Now his scorecard is complete.”

Lederman received several honors throughout his career, including being inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in New York in 2016. In addition, he received the Sam Taub award for broadcast excellence in 2009, and the Marvin Kohn Good Guy award in 2006, both from The Boxing Writers Association of America. In 1997, he was inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame in Los Angeles.

HBO Boxing Commentator and ex-judge Harold Lederman at the screening of "On Freddie Roach" at HBO Theater
HBO Boxing Commentator and ex-judge Harold Lederman at the screening of “On Freddie Roach” at HBO Theater in New York, on Jan. 11, 2012. (Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

Lederman passed down his love of boxing to his daughter, Julie Lederman, who remains an active judge of the sport till this day.