Feature | Issue | Premium | Aug 09 2019

‘I started in fairground boxing booths at 16, no headguards, small gloves and I’d get a pound a fight.’ The life and times of Big Ron Gray

Cigar chomping Black Country giant Ron Gray rose to become chief matchmaker for Mickey Duff, Barry Hearn and Frank Warren. He reflects on his life sentence in the hardest game
Ron Gray

Big Ron Gray of Cannock assumed a virtual monopoly over the Midland fight scene during the final quarter of the last millennium. A former scrapper on the fairground booths and one-time Midland Area heavyweight challenger, the cigar chomping Black Country giant rose to become chief matchmaker to London fight faces Mickey Duff, Barry Hearn and Frank Warren in the 1980s before quietly bowing out of the game in 2001. Louis Daniel tracked down Big Ron, now 77, to reflect upon his life sentence in the hardest game.

I DIDN’T start with the boxing until I was 15. Previously I played football. My Uncle Ron was the right-hand man to Bobby Robson at Ipswich Town.

My dad, a pitman, was a huge boxing fan. I was the eldest of five brothers and we’d have a little knockabout in the house for him. Then Dad learned of this boxing gym in Walsall above a pub. Two sides of the ‘ring’ had ropes, the other two sides were the walls of the gym. If you got hit on the wrong side of the ring your head smashed against the wall.