WBAN had covered a fight in Las Vegas on
July 21, 2000, when Karen Bill was going to fight Maria Johannson.
Mitch Halpern was the referee of that women's bout. One month later
Mitch Halpern, one of the top boxing referees in the sport, and only 33
years old killed himself. Halpern died in his home, of a gunshot
Mitch Halpern lived in Las Vegas, Nevada
at the time. Police reported that it was an obvious suicide.
The police reported that they went to Halpern's home, just shortly after
6pm and found him inside.
As the Las Vegas Review reported, Halpern was assigned many of the
highest-profile fights in Nevada, including the first Mike Tyson-Evander
Holyfield heavyweight championship fight in 1996 at the MGM Grand
Garden, the Lennox Lewis-Holyfield championship fight in 1999 at the
Thomas & Mack Center and the Oscar De La Hoya-Felix Trinidad
welterweight championship fight in 1999 at Mandalay Bay.
Richard Steele, another top ref said at the time, "He was my son.
I taught him everything I knew. He took what I had taught him, and with
his great natural ability, made himself a great referee."
Steele said, ""I got out of the ring one night, and a young man walked
up and introduced himself and said he wanted to be a referee," Steele
said. "I have had numerous people come to me and say that. I always tell
them, 'I will meet you at the gym Monday.' He was there Monday. Most
other guys never show up. He worked hard. He worked harder than anyone I
had ever seen. He wanted to be the best."