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Before they were murderers: When Boxing News met the Kray twins

Kray Twins
A 1951 article from the Boxing News archives revealed Ron was the more aggressive of the Kray twins and considered how they should be matched. The notorious gangsters of course went in a different direction

IF any ambitious matchmaker is at a loss for a couple of attractive supporting contests may I suggest the Smiths vs the Krays. Never heard of them you may say. Quite rightly, neither match will make a lot of difference to British or even Area championships but it offers probably a unique opportunity of matching a pair of identical twins.

We have had a glut of boxing brothers recently: the Turpins and the Buxtons and now within the last few months on to the professional scene has stepped the Krays, Ron and Reg from Bethnal Green, and Albert and Jackie Smith from Elland in Yorkshire.

Should the match ever materialise, opticians and doctors in the district will certainly have a stream of customers for the facial resemblance of both is amazing.

Tommy Miller, manager of the Smiths, admits he still cannot tell them apart and smiles as he recalls the night of Albert’s professional debut. He shared the verdict and Miller, offering advice after the show, said he should have got the decision. Imagine his surprise at the reply: “I’m Jackie and won!”

The Smiths caused some concern in cadet boxing before joining the army and since their demob have each had three professional contests. Only difference appears to be their weights for the shorter Jackie, who is the eldest by 25 minutes, scales half a stone lighter than his ‘southpaw’ brother. Both are boxing lightweights however.

Such a distinguishing aid for ringsiders is not offered when Bethnal Green’s dark-haired unbeaten lightweights are on view, for although Ron is a little more aggressive than his brother, both have similar styles and always weigh within half a pound of each other. Reg and Ron do everything together. At 10 they made their first appearance in the ring and earned five bob for a fairground exhibition. Two years later they stepped along to the local boxing club and began chalking up an impressive list of victories.

Apart from their fairground exhibition, the 17-year-old Krays have met on four occasions but except for sparring in the gymnasium those days are over, for their mother has barred any meeting in a professional ring.

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE KRAYS AND THE SMITHS?
REG and Ron Kray had brief careers that started and finished in 1951. Reg’s perfect record was 7-0 (2) while Ron’s was 4-2 (2). The Kray family name became anchored in history as the twins embarked on a London crime spree rivalled only by Jack The Ripper for notoriety. The Krays ruled the gangster underworld until they were arrested in 1968. Charlie Kray, their older brother, also fought professionally. He fought between 1948 and 1951, compiling a record of 11-6-1.

The Smiths, meanwhile, slipped off into the sunset rather more quietly. Both fought until 1952, with Jackie’s record reading 2-4 (1) and Albert faring slightly better at 4-3-1 (3).

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