Art Lurie, who was one of the premier boxing judges in Nevada and a former chairman of the Nevada Athletic Commission, died late Thursday after a lengthy illness.
He was 96.
Lurie, who was also a boxing referee, judged fights in Las Vegas for six decades before retiring in 2003. He worked more than 200 world championship fights, including the first meeting between Muhammad Ali and Leon Spinks on Feb. 15, 1978, at the Las Vegas Hilton. Ali lost a 15-round split decision, with Lurie siding with Ali.
“He loved boxing,” said his son, Ron, the former mayor of Las Vegas. “He would have kept judging, but his eyesight was going on him and he could only see out of one eye. He liked to say he could still judge a fight with one eye better than most of the other judges’ two.”
Marc Ratner, the former executive director of the NAC, said Lurie deeply cared about growing the sport in the state and was a fine official. Lurie served multiple times on the commission.
“He was someone I could always turn to if I needed help or advice,” Ratner said. “He was one of the pioneers in growing boxing in Las Vegas. He really understood the sport, and he was a huge fan of boxing.”
Former boxing judge Duane Ford recalled a man who loved the sport.
“We lost a great one,” said Ford, the president of the North American Boxing Federation. “I’ve never known someone who helped so many people. He was a good judge because he didn’t care who won, and he didn’t complicate things. He taught me so much.
“He also never took himself seriously. He could laugh at himself. He once got this ‘White Cane Award,’ and he thought it was pretty funny.”
Lurie came to Las Vegas in the early 1950s from Los Angeles to help his brother’s grocery business. After managing Market Town grocery, he branched out to liquor sales with Wonder World Liquors and later became a restaurant owner. His restaurant, Art’s Place, was a popular hangout for the boxing crowd from the 1970s to 1990s.
Ron Lurie said his father had been battling cancer and was eventually moved to Nathan Adelson Hospice, where he died.
“He was a real fighter,” Ron Lurie said. “But nothing made him happier than when he was at the fights working. He just had a knack for judging.”
Lurie and his wife, Ellie, were set to celebrate their 75th wedding anniversary in September. She survives him, along with his children Ron Lurie and Wendy Kahn, both of Las Vegas, three grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Lurie’s funeral will be private. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Nathan Adelson Hospice and the Boys and Girls Club of Southern Nevada.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at email@example.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.