The quaint West Sussex village of Cuckfield has never been a breeding-ground of boxers. It did produce one man, though, who made his mark as an amateur and professional – a heavyweight of the 1930s and 40s called George Markwick.
Markwick was born in Cuckfield in 1916, and as a 'regular' with the Royal Artillery he won the heavyweight championship of the British Army in 1937. He had around 70 amateur contests and lost only six. Two of these defeats were to Sweden's Olle Tandberg, who became European heavyweight champion as a pro.
Markwick made his professional debut on 10 May 1937 when he knocked out Gunner Read in four rounds at the Holborn Stadium. He stayed unbeaten in his first 27 pro fights, 22 of them ending inside the distance, which proves what a puncher he was. But in fight number 28, Markwick was stopped in the seventh round by fellow big-hitter Len Rowlands (Dagenham) at the Devonshire Club in a scheduled eight-rounder. It had been a hard-fought battle which for a while seemed as though it could go either way.
World War 2 disrupted Markwick's climb up the fistic ladder as he was called on to serve in France. Afterwards he was posted to the Army Physical Training staff at Aldershot, where he attained the rank of sergeant. Unsurprisingly, given his army duties, by this time Markwick's form was erratic, and the man who had once been a much-touted prospect was losing fights he previously would have won.
In September '44 the Cuckfield fighter was stopped in three rounds at Belle Vue, Manchester by Bruce Woodcock, who within a year became British heavyweight champion. Markwick meanwhile continued his army service and was posted to Italy.
After his demob there was just one more fight for George Markwick: a second-round KO loss to Al Robinson (Leeds). This was enough to convince the Cuckfield man that his best fighting days were behind him, and he retired with a traceable pro record of 52 fights: 37 wins, 14 losses and one draw – you can view his record here.
After boxing, Markwick remained in Cuckfield and worked as a PT instructor at a Sussex college for over 30 years. In later life he was an active member of the Sussex Ex-Boxers Association and president of his local British Legion. He died in West Sussex in 1998.