Timekeeper fulfills goal of involvement in sports

Truth be told, Toby Murray wanted to be a boxing referee. But after just one amateur bout, she quit.

"I got in the ring and it was hard work," Murray, 69, said. "If I missed something and a kid got hurt, I'd never forgive myself."

But she loved being around boxing, and working as an usher at the fights at The Orleans wasn't good enough. She wanted to be closer to the action. So Murray, who works at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas as a preservation and conservation librarian, became a timekeeper.

Her job, while simple, might be the most critical in the sport. No fight can start until she rings the bell and no round can end until she says so. In between, her eyes are on the clock.

"There's so much of the fights I miss," Murray said. "You have to pay attention to what you're doing."

In Nevada, timekeepers work in pairs, one main timekeeper who is watching the clock, the other, serving as the backup, watching and counting for knockdowns and to alert the fighters when there are 10 seconds remaining in a round. The timekeepers normally alternate during the course of a fight card.

Murray has always had a love of sports. But it wasn't until later in her life that she got an opportunity to take an active role.

"I was brought up during a time when women couldn't do things like this," she said. "I wanted to be a jockey, and my father said, 'That's ridiculous. You can't do that.'

"If my father knew that I was working in boxing, he would not have approved."

But Murray enjoys what she does. From the genteel environment of the library to the rough-and-tumble world of boxing, the radically different facets of Murray's life are not lost on her.

"It's definitely different," she said. "When people (at UNLV) find out I work as a timekeeper in boxing, they're a little surprised. But I like to stay busy, and it gives me something to do."

Murray said unlike the referees and judges, she encounters very little abuse in her role as a timekeeper.

"People will curse out the referee and yell at the judges, but no one ever bothers the timekeeper.

"I like that."