SOME people say size matters – others, that quality’s more important than quantity. Scotland’s Garnock Valley ABC had only five members, but all did well – and today all are members of the Scottish EBA, regularly attending meetings. Most successful was light-welterweight Davie Burns, who had over 60 bouts and lost just five – two to his great compatriot, Dick McTaggart MBE (pictured above). And the second verdict was close enough for argument. Throughout his career Davie was never put down, let alone stopped.
He might not have been able to overcome the legendary McTaggart, but in 1965 he stepped in at a day’s notice to replace Dick in an international against Denmark. Dick had to withdraw with a poisoned thumb, and Davie came in against Preben Rasmussen, who had boxed at the Tokyo Olympics the previous year, losing to the fine Ghanaian Eddie Blay (who as a pro fought for the world welterweight title). It was a big ask for Davie (who had to shed six pounds in 18 hours), but he rose to the challenge, dominating the first two rounds and flooring his rival in the last to take a well-earned verdict. As Scotland eventually won the match 6-4, that was a crucial result. Other Scottish winners included future pro champions John McCluskey (fly) and featherweight Ken Buchanan It was a great year for Davie, in fact. In other internationals he scored victories over fighters from England, East Germany, Romania and Switzerland. Though encouraged to go pro, he decided not to – and took up bowls, where he was also very successful.
The Scottish Ex-Boxers Association reformed in 1996, and the membership gradually grew – and as a result the five Garnock Valley members were reunited after 25 years. Which is what EBAs are all about. The other four were Bob Corbett, Tommy Marshall, Billy Hutchinson and Ray Caulfield – the last-named, of course, being London EBA’s current Secretary and Treasurer.