A Knockout Performance

Alumnus acts in “Million Dollar Baby”

Marty Sammon ’56, MBA ’63, has officiated boxing matches throughout the world, including judging the first Oscar De La Hoya-Shane Mosley championship bout. But the largest venue on his resume may be that of the big screen, where he appeared—albeit briefly—as Referee No. 5 in the Academy Award-winning film “Million Dollar Baby.”

“I sent my head shot to Central Casting, they called me, and I did it,” says Sammon, who has judged or officiated 54 world championship bouts either as a judge or a referee. In an interview with The Sweet Science, he admitted to being “a tad bit nervous” walking onto the set with actor and director Clint Eastwood nearby. “But within minutes I felt as comfortable as I do in a boxing ring.”

Sammon was born in Steubenville, Ohio, and came to California as a young boy when his family sought a better life when the steel mills closed. What they found was a life of constant moving in search of work. By the age of 15, Sammon had attended 11 schools.

He says he came to Santa Clara “because the Jesuits had a good reputation as educators and they had a good football team.” After stints on the football and water polo teams at SCU, Sammon, who had boxed as a youth, entered and won a novice tournament and an intramural tournament on campus. He began his refereeing career by officiating matches between inmates at San Quentin Prison in Marin County, Calif.

“I like boxing because it’s one- on-one and you learn a lot about yourself,” says the former finance major. “It’s all you in the ring. You can’t hang it on your parents or your coaches. Like Aristotle said, our universities do a wonderful job of teaching, the only thing they don’t offer is a course on courage. Boxing is a course on courage.”

When he is not in or near the ring, Sammon manages nearly $50 million worth of accounts as senior vice president of investments for Silicon Valley Securities in San Jose. “Half of my business comes from me going to Santa Clara because my classmates became successful and they dragged me along with them,” he says.

—Adam Breen is editor of Santa Clara Magazine.
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