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EBA newsletter – August 20

Dick McTaggart
Reflections on Dick McTaggart, the only Briton to win the Val Barker trophy. Simon Euan Smith rounds up the EBA news this week

UNFORTUNATELY, health problems prevented a trio from Croydon EBA – Chairman Barry Penny, Vice-President Dave McCarthy and myself – from attending Harry Doherty’s funeral, but I was delighted to hear from his widow, Vivienne, that it went well. “There were around 130 there,” Vivienne said.

I’m not surprised. Harry was very popular – a staunch supporter of boxing, and the EBA movement. There have been tributes to him in several EBA newsletters. Vivienne asks that donations in his memory be made to The Stroke Association.

I mentioned previously that Barry Penny passed out after the July meeting, and was taken to hospital. The hospital couldn’t find the cause of the trouble – and, shockingly, they didn’t pick up that he had fractured his hip in the fall, and sent him home. After two days in pain, the doctor was called, and he immediately called an ambulance for Barry to be taken back to hospital – and he has had a hip replacement. He sounded his usual cheerful self when I rang him. “I’m getting there,” he said. “Very slowly, but I’m getting there. I’m beginning to walk much better.”

By the time this appears, Barry should have been transferred to a rehabilitation home in Kenley. It was his 85th birthday this week (the 19th), and I’m sure everyone will join me in wishing him many happy returns, and a full and speedy recovery. He does so much for CEBA, and the EBA movement generally.

I was delighted to read in the latest Manchester EBA newsletter that Leeds EBA are putting on a “bit of a do” for Manchester and the Merseyside Former Boxers’ Association. It’s due to take place at The Anglers Club, Leeds, on Sunday, September 8.

Manchester are putting on a coach, and I hope they fill it. Events like this don’t organise themselves, and I hope there’s a good contingent from both Associations to make it a really successful day. Well done, Leeds, and I’ll look forward to hearing how it went.

There’s plenty to read in the Scottish EBA’s latest newsletter – including an interesting article on Elgin middleweight Johnny Mathieson, who campaigned as a middleweight between 1910 and 1948, cramming 48 bouts into just over four years.

Mathieson’s greatest achievement was his four-bout series with American Dixie Kid, who had given up the world welterweight title after outgrowing the division. Their second meeting was drawn – Mathieson won all the others. How many fighters from Britain (or anywhere) can claim that sort of record against a world champion?

There’s also a piece on Dick McTaggart MBE, arguably Britain’s greatest-ever amateur (pictured above).

In 1956 Dick won Olympic gold at lightweight, and also the Val Barker trophy for the most outstanding boxer at the Games. When he got home from Australia he couldn’t wait to show his trophies to his family, and there’s a nice photo of Dick, his parents and his grandmother (all looking understandably proud). Dick remains the only Britisher to win the Val Barker award.

The piece goes on to say something about Barker – who, surprisingly, was English. He was ABA heavyweight champion in 1891 and stayed involved in the sport after his career finished. In 1920 he became the first Secretary of the Federation Internationale de Boxe Amateur, and he was President of the ABA from 1926 to 1929.

The Val Barker Trophy was inaugurated in 1936 to honour his great contribution to amateur boxing.

There’s also a piece on the great James “Tancy” Lee, who campaigned from 1906 to 1920, and will always be remembered for beating the great Jimmy Wilde in 17 rounds in a British and European flyweight title defence. Wilde got his revenge, of course, halting Lee in 11 rounds, and went on to become world champion – but Lee’s achievement stands.

The next meeting of the Scottish EBA will be held at The Iron Horse, 115 West Nile Street, Glasgow, on Sunday, September 8 at 12.30 p.m.

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