ONE aspect of EBAs generally, that seems to have died out rather, is social gatherings (in additional to the normal monthly meetings). Darts matches, quiz nights and the like used to be held fairly regularly, and were an important part of keeping EBAs going – not least because members would bring along family members and friends.
Of course, these dos take some organising, and the support needs to be there. As I say, they’re not as common as they used to be – so I was delighted to read in Leicester EBA’s May newsletter that their annual table skittles championship was being held this month. Afterwards, I spoke to Leicester President/Chairman Mick Greaves, and Secretary Alan Parr. Both were very enthusiastic.
“It went very well,” Mick said. “With the ladies, there were about 30 there, and everyone enjoyed it. Something like this really makes a difference – it helps keep the Association going. And it’s one of the few times all the ladies get together. Let’s face it, we can’t only rely on ex-boxers. We’re a nice, tight unit – a really friendly outfit. Everyone enjoys one another’s company.”
The men’s winner was Harold Varnham – at 83, he’s one of Leicester’s longest-serving members. He beat Dave Moseley with a tremendous score of 31. The ladies’ winner was Sheila Saunders. Alan especially wanted to thank Pat Roberts (wife of Fred, Leicester’s Treasurer) for providing the finger-buffet.
I’m delighted the event went well. Mick’s comment about not being confined to ex-boxers is so true. Everyone is welcome to join an EBA, and/or attend EBA functions – and if members can bring friends and relations to the social gatherings, it all adds to the atmosphere.
Also in the newsletter is a note that a party from Leicester will be attending the Home Counties EBA’s Summer BBQ at Bricket Wood Sports and Social Club on July 17 – and the Wales EBA Convention at Taff’s Well on September 1. That’s good to hear. As I’ve said many times, EBAs supporting other Associations’ functions is a vital part of keeping the whole EBA movement going. And Alan told me that a party of 10 (plus Tony Sibson, who’s being inducted this year) will be attending the British Ex-Boxers’ Hall of Fame awards lunch at Orsett Hall Hotel, Orsett, Essex on September 22.
I was sorry to read that Leicester Vice-Chairman Sean Ryan has been in hospital, following a heart attack. Having had an operation, he’s now back home. Hope you make a full recovery, Sean.
The Scottish EBA know the importance of being seen to be involved in today’s scene, and so they’ve instituted an annual award for the Scottish Boxer of the Year. There’s always been a strong boxing tradition in Scotland, and I’ll be interested to hear who gets this year’s award. Their current newsletter has a fascinating article on Hugh Roddin of Musselburgh, who isn’t a household name but deserves to be remembered for two remarkable achievements.
First, he was Scotland’s first-ever Olympic medallist, winning featherweight bronze at London’s White City in 1908. Second, he has the best record of any British pro boxer in America – 22 bouts without loss. He was advised to cross the Atlantic by the great Jim Driscoll, and in America he hooked up with Billy Gibson, who guided Gene Tunney [pictured] and Benny Leonard to world titles. A remarkable record – and EBA newsletters are a great way of recalling these fighters who might otherwise be forgotten.
Back on the subject of supporting today’s scene, I was glad to hear from regular correspondent Erik Roper – Ipswich EBA secretary – enthusing about unbeaten local heavyweight Fabio Wardley, who won in Nottingham this month. I first met Erik in Brentwood last year, when he and some other Ipswich members had made the trip down to support member Billy Bird in his successful Southern Area super-welterweight title bid. As I say, supporting today’s fighters is so important.