West Norfolk referee is officially the busiest in world boxing
A West Norfolk boxing referee has earned a place in the Guinness Book of Records after being recognised as the busiest ring official in the world.
Lee Cook, from Upwell, has taken charge of 665 professional contests in just five years and officiated at some of the sport's biggest events.
The record was reached last November, but the father of three has had to wait until now to have it officially confirmed.
Lee, 61, began his refereeing career at the age of 35 after a five year wait to be recognised because of the number of people wanting to get into the profession.
However, after 10 years in the sport travelling thousands of miles most weeks to not only ref but judge matches in the southern half of the country, he was forced to quit because of an old injury suffered in a car accident.
He said: “It would be fair to say I have essentially had two careers as a referee - from 1996 to 2006 when I had to retire because of a childhood injury, and then again from April 18 2015 when I started work again.”
It’s the second spell as a referee covering the southern area regularly officiating at shows as far afield as Plymouth, Bristol and Swindon, to those closer to home in Norwich and Suffolk, that has earned him the Guinness World Record for the ‘most professional boxing matches refereed’.
Since hitting the record of 665 on November 30 Lee, who had notched up a life-time total of 1,000 fights just a couple of weeks earlier on November 15, has gone on to oversee nearly 40 more bouts with his current figure for the last five years standing at 704 and his overall career record is 1,060.
It would have been more but since lockdown began Lee has been unable to do the job he loves. But with the sport now starting up again, without the benefit a live audience, he is hoping to step into the ring again soon.
Lee, who moved to the Fens in 2016 and married wife Michelle last year, has enjoyed the limelight of the ring alongside some of the world’s greats including Herbie Hide and Carl Froch.
He even refereed a match on the under card of the classic heavyweight title battle between Anthony Joshua versus Wladimir Klitschko fight at Wembley in front of a crowd of over 80,000 in 2017.
“There was a tremendous atmosphere that night. I only had the one fight to ref, after that I was free to enjoy the show.
"I was sitting in a seat that would have cost thousands - I was very privileged to be there, although to be honest I would rather be reffing than watching a fight,” said Lee, whose own dreams of boxing were cut short as a youth when it was discovered he had eyesight problems.
When he is not scooting up and down the country to referee Lee is an author and has written seven military history books.
The writing is an ideal occupation as it fits in well around his reffing responsibilities.