Saturday 3 November 2012

Sparring partner to Mickey Walker – June 1927 (aged 14)

Nipper Pat Daly aged about 15
"When Mickey Walker was signed up to defend his world middleweight title against Scotsman Tommy Milligan at the Olympia on the above date the whole world of British boxing fans were agog with interest.

Jack Kearns, Walker’s manager, struck camp at Taggs Island, which was situated in the middle of the Thames river at Hampton Court. Kearns, who was the former manager of Jack Dempsey, former heavyweight champion of the world, was very businesslike and arranged what order we would spar with his present champ.

As he looked at me I could see the disappointment in his eyes, and he said, 'You’re far too light for this job.' I weighed 7st-12lb or 110lb, American method. My manager explained to him that I was engaged for my speed, not my strength. Mickey, who was talking to another of his partners, noticed that we were talking, rather excitedly came to us and on hearing the cause of the argument said, 'Okay I’ll just spar with him last to speed me up, and he better be fast.'

Sunday 17 June 2012

Story behind this picture – Frankie Burns

By Gilbert Odd

This article and the accompanying photo are reproduced here with the kind permission of Derek O'Dell, to whom they were entrusted by the late Gilbert Odd for publication at a later date. 

The boxer on the floor has just been knocked out in a championship contest. A few days earlier he had saved someone from drowning. Did his heroic act cause his defeat?

Friday 13 April 2012

The story of the boxers who sailed on the Titanic

In the January 21st 1911 edition of ‘Boxing’ under the article headed ‘Welsh Notes’ there appeared the following: “Wanted – a smart boxer. A well-known American sports promoter has just written to me from across the Atlantic to ask me to recommend a smart boxer for a trip across the water, and the terms, which I do not care to make public, will gladden the heart of the selected man. At present I have two lightweights in view, both good men, but I am in no great hurry to make the selection, as circumstances allow me ample time to do so.” The article was penned by the Welsh correspondent, Charles A Barnett, and it referred to an invitation he had received from a wealthy racehorse owner and sports promoter, Frank Torreyson.

The following week Barnett wrote that “As might have been expected, quite a shoal of boxers have written to me offering their services in answer to the announcement that I made last week.” Barnett added that he had been given a name by Torreyson and that until this person had accepted or declined the offer he would look no further.

Monday 2 April 2012

'Boxing by the Sea' - The history of professional boxing at Morecambe

At one time the Winter Gardens at Morecambe, a seaside town in Lancashire, was one of the most important small hall venues in British boxing. Between 1928 to 1964 no fewer than 644 professional boxing promotions were staged there and men of the calibre of Jock McAvoy, Frankie Taylor, Johnny King, Jackie Brown, Frank Johnson and Jimmy Walsh all fought there.

Larry Braysher, one of Britain’s leading boxing memorabilia collectors and a local to the area, has recently published a fine book which tells the story of this famous boxing venue. ‘Boxing by the Sea’ is available direct from the author for £10.90 + £2.50 post and packing.

Saturday 7 January 2012

Boxing letters from 1938

Benny LynchOld-time newspapers really are fascinating. In the absence of TV, radio and archival film they provide an unrivalled insight into the lives of our forebears, including those who once inhabited the boxing world.

While fight reports and other newspaper editorial must conform to style constraints and, to an extent, the agenda of a publication, letters from readers need not. Often a letter will tell us as much about the personality of the letter writer as it does the topic of the letter. Like it or not, what we write can say more about us than we intend.

Aside from that, historical boxing letters can offer a rare insight into fight fans’ opinions of the time (without the distortion of hindsight), shed light on the careers of long-forgotten fighters and tell us about the lost customs of the ring; all with an immediacy that gives one the feeling, if only momentarily, of stepping through time.

The below selection of readers’ letters printed in Britain’s trade paper Boxing in 1938 provides a flavour of the fight game of that era.