THE current Brighton EBA newsletter reports that several members attended Hastings’ monthly meeting on April 28 and had a great time. Reciprocating, Hastings Chairman Dave Harris made it to Brighton’s May meeting, and Brighton’s Lifetime Vice-President (and former undisputed world middleweight champion) Alan Minter presented Dave with a painting of himself and all his championship belts, to be auctioned in aid of the Ringside Rest and Care Home, which Dave of course is pioneering. Dave also instigated the British Ex-Boxers’ Hall of Fame. This year’s Annual Awards Lunch will be hosted by Essex EBA, and Wales will host the 2020 event – but Dave’s already looking for a host for 2021. I urge all EBA committees to think about this. If you’re interested, contact Dave on 07947 084 018.
I was glad to hear my old friend Paddy Byrne was able to attend the Brighton meeting. He’s had some health problems, but happily is now recovered. He’s in a care home run by Brighton member (and former British and Commonwealth heavyweight champion) Scott Welch’s wife, Maria. The address is Fairdene Lodge, 14/16 Walsingham Road, Hove, BN3 4FF. Paddy would be delighted to receive visitors for a chat and a walk along the seafront. I remember Paddy as a promoter and manager – he staged some cracking shows at the old Manor Place Baths (sadly no more) and Hove.
Also in the Brighton newsletter are some articles on fighters of the past. Leigh Crompton has produced a fascinating profile of Cleveland “Big Cat” Williams, who was a fearsome heavyweight in his day. Sadly he was past his best when he challenged Muhammad Ali for the world title in 1966 and lost in three rounds. Other articles feature two fine British middleweights – Randolph Turpin, who shocked the great Sugar Ray Robinson to annex the world title in 1951, and Croydon’s Albert Finch, the first man to beat Turpin as a pro. Albert, who died in 2003, was a keen member of Croydon EBA in the early days – he was actually the borough’s first British champion.
Visiting other EBAs, and attending their functions, is a vital part of keeping the movement going, so I was delighted to hear that Bournemouth will be visiting Essex on Sunday July 21. The previous month (Saturday June 22), Bournemouth hold their Annual Reunion at Bournemouth Sports Club Garden Room, Chapelgate, Christchurch, BH23 6BL. This is combined with the presentation of their awards to the best local amateurs.
May’s Mug’s Alley, newsletter of the Merseyside Former Boxers’ Association, has tributes to the recently departed Pat Dwyer and John Smurthwaite. Pat’s career has been covered quite extensively in BN. John, described as “one of our most popular members,” boxed for Willaston ABC and later became a respected coach and referee. To quote further from the newsletter: “What speaks most strongly about the respect in which he was held was the huge number of people who attended his funeral service.”
London EBA should shortly be welcoming a distinguished new recruit – former WBA super-middleweight champion George Groves, who retired recently. This month, the Boxing Writers’ Club held a lunch in George’s honour, and during the Q&A session afterwards, I asked him if he’d considered joining his local EBA. “I’d love to!” George replied, and said he’d been honoured to receive three of London EBA’s annual awards over the years (Best London Amateur, Best London Prospect, Best British Boxer). I hope George does join LEBA – he’ll be made most welcome – but, as I’ve said before, you don’t have to have been a world champion, or any sort of champion, to join your local EBA. You don’t even have to have boxed! If you love boxing (and you obviously do, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading BN), do visit your local Association (if you want details, dates, times etc, drop me an email). You’ll have a great time.