TREVOR “HUGHROY” CURRIE, who died last week aged 61, had a seven-month reign as British heavyweight champion and upset former world-title challenger Alfredo Evangelista in Spain during his 29-fight career.
Currie produced a late rally against the awkward Funso Banjo in September, 1985 to claim the British title vacated by Dave Pearce [Currie is pictured above right with Peace and Banjo] and lost the belt in six rounds to Horace Notice, on the Isle of Man.
The honest efforts of Currie, Notice and Banjo at domestic level were rather overshadowed by Frank Bruno, by far and away Britain’s top heavyweight at the time.
Currie’s was a ‘Rocky’ story.
Born in Jamaica and based in Catford, he turned over a week after his 22nd birthday and won only three of his first eight (one draw) with Maurice Hope as his manager before moving on to Frank Warren and Mike Barrett. Under Warren, Currie secured a top-15 ranking with the WBC by outpointing Zimbabwe’s Proud Kilimanjaro over 10 rounds in Cardiff in December, 1985. Currie only just got through a torrid ninth round.
Though known for his grit, Currie wasn’t always motivated and wasn’t universally well thought of in the trade. Colin Hart described Currie as “one of the poorest champions to have held the crown” in The Sun ahead of the British-title defence against Notice, another who had made the trip from Jamaica to South London. It was Notice who had encouraged Currie to take up boxing and when they fought for the first time, both were on the floor before Notice prevailed in six rounds. Horace would win a rematch in 10 rounds. Again, Currie, who stood 6ft 1ins tall and weighed around 16 stones, showed spirit. He stayed on his feet as Notice unloaded on him, but was too weary to throw anything back.
Currie would say later in his career that he was seldom fully fit for fights. Hart’s assessment followed Currie’s title-winning effort against Banjo at Alexandra Pavilion. Banjo had previously outpointed him by half a point and Currie won the rematch by a similar margin after putting everything into the penultimate round. Referee Larry O’Connell said after a poor spectacle: “The 11th was the only round when anything happened and it won him the fight.”
Banjo was impossible to look good against and on his day, Currie was a handful. He was mobile and there was weight behind his left hook. That was the punch that sent former ABA super-heavyweight champion Adrian Elliott crashing to a shock fifth-round defeat and even better was to come from Currie in his next fight.
Currie went to Spain and pulled off Mission Impossible, outpointing Evangelista over eight rounds.
He was also competitive against Brazilian banger Adilson Rodrigues, who was ranked No 2 by the WBA at the time, before being stopped in the eighth.
Currie also played a part in turning Glenn McCrory into the North East’s first world champion. McCrory decided his future was at cruiserweight after Currie stopped him in two rounds with left hooks in Oldham in October 1986. Currie had a 14lbs weight advantage that night.
Currie retired after four stoppage defeats in his last five fights.
In his final outing, he lasted only 55 seconds with Derek “Sweet D” Williams for the vacant European title and the Commonwealth titles in Brockley.
That clash of South Londoners wasn’t even the biggest heavyweight fight in Britain that week. The following night, Gary Mason improved to 33-0 with a points win over Mark Wills at Wembley Arena. Mason had beaten Currie for the vacant British title in January, 1989. That was a breakthrough for Mason. Our preview said the fight was his “opportunity to prove he is for real” after 28 straight wins, 27 of them coming inside the distance. We fancied that if the fight went into its second half, there was every chance Currie would become British champion for a second time. We still went for Mason to win inside five rounds at the Royal Albert Hall and that was accurate, Mason winning in four. Though outgunned, Currie was spirited. Moments before the late Mason found his chin with the right-hand finisher, Currie, blood leaking from his nose and mouth and hurt by body punches, was waving him forward. That was followed by the Williams defeat that left Currie with a final record of 17-11-1 (7).