BRADLEY STONE lost his life to boxing in 1994. Today he guards the Peacock Gym where he used to train in Canning Town. The statue of Stone stands tall and is locked in a fighting pose, eternally 23 years old. The words, ‘He died in pursuit of his dreams’, are etched into the plinth beneath his feet. Inside the gym lies a welcome so warm it’s impossible not to smile as you walk through the doors. The juxtaposition of the dead boxer and a gym alive with optimism is no accident. Brothers Martin and Tony Bowers founded the gym in the 1970s and were responsible for the statue after organising a series of fundraisers that are typical of their family. Stone’s death occurred two days after losing to Richie Wenton in 10 rounds and the tragedy is still keenly felt in certain corners of the east end. The family do not blame boxing because they recognise the positive effect it had on Stone’s short life. His nephew, also called Bradley, still trains at the Peacock.
Whether they tumble suddenly or descend slowly, boxers are always in danger of being forgotten. But the Bowers have made sure that Stone never will be.
The brothers are laced with the fighting blood of their forefathers and are often approached by wannabe boxers who visit the gym hoping to take up the sport. The Bowers will take them outside to the statue of Stone and remind them what can happen when the fighting really starts. Some will walk away and realise that boxing is not for them. One who didn’t was Daniel Dubois, now the 22-year-old British heavyweight champion and one of the most exciting prospects in world boxing.