Monday, 23 February 2015

George Naufahu of Tonga, boxer, trainer and a well-respected Chesterfield character

George Naufahu, one of that fine group of Tongans who came to Britain in the mid nineteen-fifties, died on February 13th aged 88. The victim of a stroke, George’s passing will be greatly mourned not only by the  many people associated with the game in and around Chesterfield, but also by many who remember him in his native Tonga, ten thousand miles away. He is to be buried today at the Salem Methodist Independent Chapel in Chesterfield.
George arrived in Britain in 1956 aged 29.   He joined the same stable as his compatriot Kitione Lave and trained initially at the Cantley Saw Mills Gymnasium near Doncaster. He weighed fourteen and a half stone and he claimed to have had 50 amateur and 38 professional contests prior to making his British debut.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Johnny Hughes – British and World Title Claimant, Promoter and Film Extra

Johnny Hughes in his prime
Remembering Johnny Hughes (Bloomsbury), the early 20th-century British and world title claimant who became a promoter and film extra.

Recently I heard from June Hurst, granddaughter of Bloomsbury flyweight Johnny Hughes, who boxed professionally from around 1900 to 1923 and was one of the best British boxers of the day. But like many top men of that era he is now largely forgotten.

Eminent boxing writer and historian Gilbert Odd described Johnny as ‘a rough, tearaway fighter with a punch a lightweight would have envied. He could be outpointed providing he didn’t knock you out first.’ While old-time fight journalist Charlie Rose remembered him as ‘one of the toughest and hardest-hitting flyweights that I can recall’.

He said: ‘Though barely 8st, this great little battler from Bloomsbury often gave half a stone to high-class men, and brought home the bacon by exploding dynamite in his right glove against either the point, the heart or the short ribs. Johnny also carried a dangerous left hook in his repertoire of punches, and could locate the “mark” with it more efficiently than most.’