Legendary boxing judge, HBO personality Harold Lederman dies at 79 after battle with cancer

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Less than six months after working the final card on HBO to cap the premium cable network's 40-year run in boxing, longtime unofficial scorekeeper Harold Lederman lost his lengthy battle with cancer at 79.

Lederman, a respected judge who was inducted to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2016, died on Saturday morning. HBO confirmed Lederman's passing following a tweet from former network executive and veteran promoter Lou DiBella.

Beloved for his honest analysis and jubilant personality, both inside and out of the ring, Lederman worked his first HBO card in 1986 as an analyst and evolved into his longtime role as unofficial scorekeeper long before he retired from judging in 1999. 

"Harold Lederman had a lifelong love affair with the sport of boxing," HBO Sports executive vice president Peter Nelson said in a statement. "Over the past 50 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. 

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

Lederman's voice became as instantly identifiable as any in all of boxing throughout his career, thanks in part to his unique delivery which typically began with letting out an excited laugh before exclaiming some variation of, "OK Jim! I gotta tell you something," in the direction of blow-by-blow commentator Jim Lampley.  

A major reason for Lederman's sustained success as a broadcaster was how genuinely passionate he was for the sport. A native of the Bronx, New York, Lederman settled in nearby Rockland County and could be found most weekends as an approachable diehard fan attending boxing cards big and small all over the northeast. 

Lederman earned his judging license from the New York State Athletic Commission to judge title fights in 1967. A graduate of Columbia University, he went on to work over 100 title bouts all over the world while maintaining his full-time day job as a pharmacist in New York. 

"He was an historian and walking rulebook," Nelson said. "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."

From the standpoint of bringing personality and charisma to the job of scorekeeper and rules official, Lederman may end up going down as the very best to do it in boxing. He played a big role during HBO's glory years in the 1990s working on legendary broadcast teams alongside the likes of Lampley, Jones, Larry Merchant George Foreman and Emanuel Steward. He also stayed working with the network until the very end as HBO made a shocking decision late last year to cease coverage of the sport. 

Lederman, who was awarded the "Good Guy Award" by the Boxing Writers Association of America in 2006, passed on his love of boxing to his daughter Julie who remains active today as one of the top judges in the sport. 

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Brian Campbell covers MMA, boxing and WWE. The Connecticut native joined CBS Sports in 2017 and has covered combat sports since 2010. He has written and hosted various podcasts and digital shows for ESPN... Full Bio

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