ANDY BRAIDWOOD, of Peckham, who had a short professional career in the late 1970s, recently passed away, aged 62, after a brave struggle with prostate cancer. Andy’s father, Bernard, was a decent amateur boxer in London in the late 1930s and he had hopes himself of turning professional. Like so many other fighters of the time, his hopes were dashed by the outbreak of war. One of the highlights of Bernard’s career was being asked to spar on a float in the annual procession through the streets of South London, organised by the Mayor of Southwark.
Andy boxed for Robert Browning ABC and had a good amateur career. At the age of 15, he was the runner-up in the ABA Junior Championships (Class A) at 9st 7lbs. Just looking at some of the other competitors in these finals provides a clue as to the sort of standard that Braidwood was boxing at – Kirkland Laing, Jimmy Batten, Steve Early, Tommy Dunn, Wayne Evans, George Gilbody and Alec Tompkins all took part.
By 1974, he was a well-established competitor at super-lightweight. He was picked that year to represent London ABA against West Berlin and he then represented Young England in a match against Young Romania. In these two tournaments, Andy boxed alongside Charlie Magri, Terry Waller, Dave McCann, Ricky Beaumont and Johnny Pincham. That same year, Andy won the London Senior Championships against John Zeraschi of Alexandra BC. The decision received a mixed reception, but Braidwood’s effective southpaw jab proved enough in the end. He was then beaten in the ABA semi-finals by Liverpool’s Gordon Kirk, who later became a decent pro himself.
In 1975, Zeraschi, who by this time had switched clubs and was now boxing for Fitzroy Lodge, extracted revenge by beating Andy in the final of the SE London Divisionals. This setback was only temporary, as in 1976 Andy again became SE London champion, this time at welterweight, with a hard-earned victory over Casley McAllum. He came a cropper in the London semi-finals, however, being stopped by the very capable Lloyd Lee, the eventual winner. After this, Andy’s amateur career went a little quiet as he deliberated about turning professional. Only the best lads tended to turn pro in the late 1970s. There were fewer active professionals compared to today and punching for pay was tough at that time.
With the support of his childhood sweetheart, Barbara, he made the decision to become a pro and, aged 21, he had his first contest at the Manor Place Baths, Walworth, for promoter Paddy Byrne in May 1977. His opponent was Johnny Elliott of Bournemouth. The card was topped by Albert Hillman and Alan Hudson, another Peckham boy. The bill was a charity event organised by the Mayor of Southwark, so Andy found himself supporting the same cause his father had 40 years before.
Andy beat Elliott to set the ball rolling on what would be a short pro career. Three weeks later he outpointed Trevor “Cookie” Roomes in another bout at the much-loved Walworth venue, and then he beat Elliott twice more. For his fifth bout, Andy was matched against Dennis Pryce of Wolverhampton, then in the early stages of what would prove to be a tough 48-bout career. Dennis fought them all and he knew his way around the ring. He couldn’t match Braidwood’s skills in this one, though, and he was comfortably outscored. The same thing happened again the following month at Manor Place Baths, so Andy ended 1977 with six straight wins and was ranked 27th by Boxing News.
Andy only had one more contest after this, being surprisingly outpointed by newcomer Tony Kavanagh. Braidwood appeared unlucky to lose but, having been floored by a combination right on the final bell, he must have thought that there were easier ways to make a living and he quit the game. Andy stayed fit and healthy right up until his illness and he leaves behind a daughter, Phoebe, and a son, Bertie, who is an avid reader of Boxing News. You should be proud of him, Bertie. He was a good fighter, your dad.
Andy’s funeral will take place at St Saviour’s Church, Westgate-on-Sea, Kent at 11.30am on Thursday July 11.