October 31 - The International Boxing Association (AIBA) has made history at its special AIBA Pro Boxing (APB) and World Series of Boxing (WSB) workshop in Incheon, South Korea, by awarding seven of its top referees and judges five-star status following a stringent selection process.
Ireland's Michael Gallagher, England's Mik Basi, Kazakhstan's Rakhymzhan Rysbayev, Poland's Mariusz Gorny, Russia's Vladislav Malyshev, Argentina's Gerardo Poggi and Algeria's Kheira Sidi Yakoub were bestowed the historic honour by AIBA President C K Wu.
"This is a significant moment in the history of our sport as we appoint the very first AIBA five-star referees and judges," said Wu.
"We truly appreciate their long years of service and dedication to officiating during international elite AIBA competitions."
The seven officials selected by a panel of experts with the strict criteria of entry based on their qualifications experience and career records.
Only three-star referees and judges were considered, while their five-star status qualifies them to officiate in elite AIBA Olympic Boxing (AOB) events, the WSB and the APB when it launches at the end of next year.
It also allows them to participate in all AIBA meetings and events related to referees and judges, act as an instructor for any educational programme held by AIBA, help develop referees and judges examinations, manuals and guidelines.
It also allows them to act as the referees and judges captain at elite AIBA competitions and to act as an AIBA Ambassador.
Ireland's Gallagher was perhaps the obvious choice for the prize having been named AIBA Referee and Judge of the Year for the past two years but he admitted he was still delighted to receive the five-star status.
"It is a fantastic honour to be a part of this group of elite referees," he said.
"These are exciting times for AIBA with WSB Season III and the launch of APB next year."
England's Basi, who took the Olympic Oath at London 2012 on behalf of all the officials at the Olympic Opening Ceremony, was equally thrilled.
"It is a huge privilege to become a five-star referee and judge and to be a part of this ground-breaking innovation by AIBA," he said.
"I am very much looking forward to this new challenge."
Meanwhile, Yakoub, the only woman to be named in the seven, was overjoyed at receiving her certificate.
"I am entirely ready for this mission," she said.
"It is the culmination of all the hard work I have put into my career as a referee."
The seven are set to be the first of many five-star referees and judges as AIBA is planning to increase the number through further workshops and various training programmes worldwide in order to have more full time officials in the future.
Due to their full-time working status with AIBA, the seven will not be allowed to take part in any of their national competitions or be involved in any of their affairs.
Purely independent, they will now concentrate on the development of referees and judges programmes within AIBA and focus on enhancing the judging environment in the sport of boxing.
The APB/WSB workshop in Incheon will continue until Saturday (November 3).
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October 2012: Boxing officials to attend APB/WSB workshop in Incheon