I WAS delighted to hear from regular correspondent Denis O’Hara that the newly-revamped Northern Ireland EBA’s inaugural social evening, at The National Club in Belfast, was a huge success. The do was organised by Association officials (and former pro featherweights) Sammy Vernon and Olympian Seanie McCafferty. The musical backing of Wheelhouse brought out the best vocal talents from the members, including Martin Hamill. Providing a special act was ex-pro lightweight Jim Jordan, who lost to Scottish legend Dick McTaggart in the 1958 Empire Games in Cardiff.
Seanie McCafferty said: “It was quite a relief to get the show on the road for the Ex-Boxers – a very encouraging start for the Association. It proved to the old fighters that they have not been forgotten. The night of excellent entertainment was not solely about retired Belfast boxers, but also those from around the Province. Personally, I was delighted with our first social evening, and particularly the excellent singing of Martin Hamill. I spent the early part of the evening on the door, greeting fighters like Paddy Moore and the Belfast brothers, Pat and Tommy Campbell. It was also very gratifying to have so many fighters come into the city from up-country, including Roy Webb [pictured above], Damien McDermott, Gerry Hamill and Johnny Thompson. There was a bit of a clash of interest as the Ulster amateur senior finals were also staged that night, in the nearby Dockers’ Club. Fourteen tickets were sold but not taken up by ex-boxers, including one by my son Barry, as they attended the amateur contests.”
I recall Roy Webb, a Commonwealth Games silver medallist, as a useful pro, whom I saw inflicting the first pro defeat on future two-weight champion (and world title challenger) Billy Hardy in a great six-rounder at London’s Grosvenor House in 1984. He was full of praise for the evening.