A Deeper Look Into Jeff Hinds Case Against BBBofC

On Friday 22 September 2023, Channel 4 aired a seventeen and a half minute documentary on the BBBofC that focused on three instances of racism levelled at the organisation. Female boxer Ruqsana Begum, along with referees Ian John-Lewis and Jeff Hinds, each had complaints of racism and discrimination levelled against the Board. This article looks at the Channel 4 documentary and explores the Jeff Hinds case in further detail.


The first case presented by Channel 4 was that of Ruqsana Begum. Begum opted to wear leggings underneath her shorts for a bout, out of respect for her background, family and Muslim faith. She was criticised ringside by a BBBofC inspector for wearing the wrong attire, which she felt was discrimination. This forms part of her complaint, alongside an issue with licencing after she was suspended following 3 bouts due to safety concerns.

The second case presented was referee Ian John-Lewis, a familiar face to British boxing fans who appeared recently as a a referee and scoring judge on the KSI vs Tommy Fury undercard. Ian John-Lewis was downgraded from an A star to an A class referee in the aftermath of Josh Taylor vs Jack Catterall, and feels that as a black man, his race was a factor in the decision.

Ruqsana Begum and Ian John-Lewis have cases stemming from specific issues and flashpoints, but the case of Jeff Hinds stems back decades, as he believes racism has denied him the opportunity to referee at the highest level. The flashpoints from the Jeff Hinds case emerge in 2019 and 2020.

Jeff Hinds Referee


Jeff Hinds is a BBBofC referee currently suspended from 2020. Unlike fellow referee Ian John-Lewis, who left the BBBofC and moved to rival BIBA (British and Irish Boxing Authority), Jeff Hinds retains his BBBofC credentials, but is unable to referee until the BBBofC choose to lift his suspension.

Back in 2019, Hinds was charged with misconduct for leaving a boxing event early. The misconduct case has more than meets the eye though. The charge came about as a result of a complaint by fellow referee Marcus McDonnell, however the BBBofC decided to treat this as misconduct. There is a distinction between a Complaint and Misconduct. Complaints fall under Regulation 24 on the BBBofC Regulations, and Misconduct is treated under Regulation 25. Complaints have no set criteria under the Regulations, whereas misconduct is ‘conduct detrimental to the interests of boxing or the public interest’, and is treated as a more serious charge.

Jeff Hinds states in his legal fillings that there was no misconduct charge included in his report for the hearing. Furthermore in the documentary Hinds said that despite being found not guilty in the hearing, he received a letter the following day from the Board that was worded in such a way to suggest he had been found guilty, and that he had been warned about his conduct. These remarks were then published online on the BBBofC website, despite Hinds being exonerated of misconduct. Requests to remove or retract the comments were denied. This is included in Hinds’ legal case as a malicious attempt to harm him, as well as part of the Board’s alleged long-term racism towards him. Hinds was suspended in July 2020 after he launched defamation action regarding the published comments, and he has also filed discrimination and victimisation claims against the BBBofC.

Jeff Hinds BBBofC Regulation 25

During the Channel 4 documentary The British Boxing Board of Control stated in their legal fillings that Jeff Hinds’ legal action could impair his judgement and performance as a referee. This is certainly a different opinion than the Board had in 2013 when Jeff Hinds was refereeing a contest that led to the unfortunate death of Michael Norgrove. Norgrove collapsed in the fifth round with the fight waved off, and died 9 days later of his injuries in the ring. But despite this and with nobody at fault for the tragedy, the BBBofC sent Jeff Hinds out to referee the following week, and he would referee bouts with Derek Chisora and Enzo Maccarinelli the same month.

Derek Chisora Jeff Hinds


Jeff Hinds also brought up the issue of being unable to attain an A star class of referee. Hinds feels that his race has denied him the opportunity to officiate at the highest level, with world championship bouts being restricted to ‘A’ Class referees. Speaking after the documentary aired, BBBofC General Secretary Robert Smith commented to TalkSport on Wednesday 27 September 2023:

“Any decision made in regard to those two gentlemen (Ian John-Lewis and Jeff Hinds) was not down to race or religion, it was down to performance”.

This was echoed further by an account listed as former General Secretary of the Board Simon Block, the predecessor to Robert Smith. Simon Block remains a member of the WBC Board of Governors and an Advisor the Commonwealth Boxing Council. The quotation states that “Jeff Hinds was lucky to remain a ‘B’ Class ref and his colour almost certainly aided him. He did improve and I told him so. Not sure though, he ever achieved class ‘A’ Star quality”.

There is no specific criteria in the BBBofC regulations on how to become an ‘A’ Star referee. Applications go through an Area Council, to be considered by the Referee’s Committee, before submission to the Board. When Hinds had no success in achieving promotion through these means, MPs attempted to aid his attempt for promotion but this was not well received by the Board.

Given that no General Secretary of the Board since 2000 has spoken with regard for Hinds’ performances, and that Hinds’ attempt to garner outside support were not met positively, it explains Hinds’ actions to challenge the Board in 2019. Having won a misconduct hearing which he believes had questionable veracity, the stain of having negative remarks publicly published only further diminished Hinds’ chances at reaching the highest refereeing class. Channel 4’s documentary only had limited time but failed to capture the reasoning behind Hinds’ complaint.

Hinds’ refereeing career began in 1990, and after 30 years of active service as a referee, the path to progression was well and truly blocked. It will be up to Hinds to present his case and demonstrate the block on achieving an A Class referee was as a result of victimisation and discrimination, and for the Board to demonstrate their decision was on the grounds of performance.

BBBofC Response to the Article

Boxingcontent.com reached out to the BBBofC prior to publication. They provided the following response:

Whilst I note the article attached to your email of 6th November 2023, you will be well aware that the allegations made by Mr. John-Lewis and Mr. Hinds are presently the subject of separate tribunal and court proceedings. Whilst the British Boxing Board of Control categorically denies any alleged racial discrimination or victimisation towards those referred to in your article, it is unable to comment on matters which are subject to ongoing legal proceeding.

I do though feel obliged to point out that there are a number of passages within your article which are not attributed to Mr. Hinds, where you appear to have adopted his unproven allegations and presented them as facts.

Yours sincerely,

Robert W. Smith
General Secretary

BBBofC Racism Allegations Response

Further Reading:

Robert Smith response on TalkSport:

British Boxing Board chief Robert Smith responds to allegations of racism and discrimination in Channel 4 report | talkSPORT

BBBofC Rules and Regulations (.pdf download):

Rules & Reguls…38132 (bbbofc.com)

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