It is not unusual for Rick Tucci, a wrestling official from the Miami area, to officiate an international wrestling meet in front of thousands of fans, and then fly halfway around the world a few days later to officiate a junior varsity high school meet in front of just the athletes' families and friends.
Tucci, a native of Tom's River, N.J., wrestled for three years in high school and then for West Virginia University before a knee injury turned his involvement to officiating in 1966. He moved in the late 1960s to teach at Miami Norland Middle School and began officiating, as well as coaching at Miami-Dade Community College. In 1972, Tucci and others established the Sunshine Open in Dania to bring exposure to the sport. He became a certified international referee in 1973 when the Junior World Tournament came to Miami Beach, a move that changed the course of his officiating career.
Over the next few years, officiating wrestling tournaments took him to more than 14 different countries, from Mexico to Norway, Israel to Japan. Tucci was chosen to officiate six Olympic Games and more than 60 World Championships, and holds the prestigious international ranking of hors classe. With all his international experience, he still found the time to officiate 19 FHSAA Finals.
Tucci has served as the head official for every U.S. Olympic Trial since 1988. He has been the president of the USA Wrestling Officials Association since 1986 and conducts several major clinics every year across the country. Tucci is a past wrestling commissioner for high schools in Miami-Dade County and still serves as commissioner for Broward County. He has been a rules interpreter for the National Federation of State High School Associations since 1976 and is a member of the FILA Officiating Council.
Tucci received the Golden Whistle Award at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul and was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 1994. He is a member of the Broward Wrestling Coaches Hall of Fame, National Junior College Hall of Fame and National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Tucci lives in Pembroke Pines and still teaches physical education at Highland Oaks Middle School in North Miami Beach.