Monday 16 September 2013

Two-Fisted Gentlemen: a history of boxing in Widnes and Runcorn

Two-Fisted Gentlemen: a history of boxing in Widnes and Runcorn (1900-1960). Paperback; 277 pages; many rare photos & boxing illustrations with a comprehensive index John Sinnott has recently produced this excellent book on the rich boxing history of Widnes and Runcorn. 

Born in Widnes, Cheshire in 1951, John’s interest in local boxing history began in 1984 when he started to research his own family history and discovered several local newspaper articles from the 1930s and 1940s written by his great uncle Pat Sinnott (1882-1949). The subject of some of these articles related to a number of former Widnes boxers, whom Pat had known personally and watched some of their contests from the ringside. After more than 25 years John has finally realised his long-held desire to see his ‘labour of love’ translated into a book to be enjoyed by avid readers of boxing history everywhere. 

Sunday 28 April 2013

Panama Al Brown thrills British fight fans

At 5 feet 11 with long spindly arms and legs and not a spare ounce of flesh on his wiry body, it’s astonishing that Al Brown ever made the 8 stone 6 lb bantamweight limit, let alone that he dominated that division as few others have done. 

What made Brown all the more remarkable was that in spite of his willowy appearance he was tremendously strong and carried the punch of a man two or three weight classes heavier.

He simply toyed with many of his opponents who – typically conceding half a foot or more in height and being similarly disadvantaged in reach – could find no antidote for those lead-pipe arms, that jack-in-the-box style and nimble footwork. Often they resorted to charging in and were laid out flat by Brown’s slicing uppercuts, delivered with startling speed and timing.

Latin America's first world boxing champion

Brown had taken up boxing belatedly, his interest piqued by watching American soldiers box when he worked as a clerk for the US Shipping Board at the Panama Canal Zone.

Saturday 20 April 2013

Death of Bob Darley - Army and Navy Featherweight Champion 1908 and 1909

In the Sporting Life dated Tuesday March 27th 1917 the following notice appeared:


We have received a communication from Mr J J Johnson informing us of the death of Sgt. Major Bob Darley, the well-known featherweight boxer. It appears that he was taken prisoner when Kut fell, but was so weak and ill that he was left in hospital in Baghdad, and died there last October. 

Darley, who was attached to the West Kent Regiment, will be remembered as winning the Navy and Army featherweight championships in 1908 and 1909, while in civilian rings he won several money matches. Standing with right hand and foot foremost, he was an awkward proposition to all 9st. men.

Wednesday 3 April 2013

Famous Pugilists of the English Prize Ring 1719-1870

Mick Hill has recently produced a worthy book on the English Prize Ring. For those of you who don't know Mick, he has long held an interest in boxing, and in particular, the days of bare-knuckle fighting.

Mick has produced a 200-page book on the prominent boxers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and he has ensured that many of the lesser-known names of this period are included, in the form of mini-biographies. There are nearly 80 pugilists featured within the book and some of them will be new to even the most fervent follower of boxing during the bare-knuckle age. Two of the first three names included within the book, for instance, are Tom Pipes and Bill Gretting, and it is a welcome change to see the stories of men such as these recorded.

Wednesday 27 March 2013

BBBC Inspector Arthur Musson Saves the Show

I have in my collection a number of items of correspondence relating to a boxing tournament which was held at the Kings Hall, Derby on 11 December 1950. The show was held under the jurisdiction of Central Area Council (Area No 5) of the British Boxing Board of Control. The North Midlands and West Midlands Councils had been abolished in 1947 when the Central Area was formed and this reorganisation had not been popular with the officials in the Midlands and there were clearly one or two teething troubles including events at this show. 

Some short time later the Midlands Area Council (Area No 8) was formed and it took part of the Central Area with it, including Derbyshire. This Council became a very well organised and successful organisation and the sport in the Midlands prospered under its control during the 1950s. This was due, in no small part, to the both the efficiency and the skill of its secretary, Mr G. Arthur Musson.

Tuesday 26 March 2013

Programme Notes : Albert Finch v Bob Cleaver

Date: May 24th 1949.

Venue: Selhurst Park Football Ground, Sydenham.

Promoter: Bill Goodwin and Alf Hart.

Attendance: approximately 4,000.

Contest between Albert Finch of Croydon, ranked number 1 contender for the British Middleweight Title and Bob Cleaver of the Borough, ranked 3 star (just outside the top ten) in the British Middleweight rankings

Distance: 8 x 3 minute rounds.

Weights: Finch 11st 8lbs, Cleaver 11st 4½ lbs.

Outcome: Finch won by knockout in the seventh round.

Monday 25 March 2013

On This Day - March 25th 1934 Sunday Afternoon at The Ring, Blackfriars

Back in 1934 there was boxing every day of the week in London and Sunday afternoon shows were very popular. On March 25th 1934 one could pay "three and a tanner" or less than 20p to get a decent seat and be entertained by boxers of great quality at the Blackfriars venue. On the same day one could also watch boxing in London at East Ham Palais de Danse, the Chalton Ring in Euston, Merton Stadium, at Luna Park in Whitechapel, the Alexandra Arena at Stratford, the Central Ring at Wood Green and also at Stepney, where fans had the choice of boxing at either the Beaumont Hall or at the Osbourne Social Club. 

Sunday 27 January 2013

Bill Chevalley 1925-2013

Bill supervises Mark Rowe's groundwork during a training session (1970)

I was saddened to hear last week that the veteran boxing trainer Bill Chevalley, perhaps best known for guiding middleweight Mark Rowe to a British and Commonwealth title, had passed away at the age of 87. While it’s perhaps a cliché to say of someone ‘boxing was his life’, this statement is entirely true of Bill, and so I say it here without hesitation.  

While there are many people who knew Bill far better than I and who are better qualified to write about him (I wasn’t even born when Bill’s well-known protégé Mark Rowe was making headlines), when I heard the news of his passing I felt compelled to pen a small tribute. 

Sunday 6 January 2013

A punch on the proboscis

By O. F. Snelling

This article, written in the 1980s, is reproduced here with the kind permission of Derek O’Dell, Editor and Producer of ‘The Southern Ex-Boxer’.

Teddy Baldock lands a left on the nose of
Kid Pattenden in their 1929 British
bantamweight title clash
Professional boxing isn’t like entering some beauty competition. And it never was. Certainly, some pretty handsome fellows have taken to the punch-up for fame and fortune, but if they ever worried about their looks excessively they were simply mugs who adopted the wrong occupation. Few of them ever got very far.

What’s the commonest blow employed in boxing? I’d say, without hesitation, that it’s the straight left lead to the face. It doesn’t always land, but when it does it usually arrives with a plonk right on the schnozzle, and the poor old proboscis is the human feature which takes more than a bit of the brunt in most fistic exchanges.

Consequently, just as most fighters seldom get through a career without sooner or later knocking up one or two of their knuckles, so very few manage all their days in this tough business without suffering a broken nose.