History | Issue | Premium | Sep 17 2019

Some of the ugliest scenes ever witnessed in British boxing

Sid Nathan sparks controversy when he names Needham the winner over Cowdell
Pat Cowdell

EVEN the best referees will have their brushes with controversy during a long career. It’s inevitable given the subjective nature of scoring and the extreme partisanship shown by some fans. Turn back the clock 40 years to this week in 1979 and one of Britain’s finest third men was at the centre of a contentious decision that gave rise to some of the ugliest scenes ever witnessed in British boxing.

Sid Nathan was the man in charge of a British featherweight title clash between reigning champion Dave Needham of Nottingham and his Warley challenger Pat Cowdell. Both boxers were first-class: Needham a slick southpaw and Cowdell a superb box-fighter and clinically precise shot-picker. This eagerly awaited Midlands derby took place in Pat’s neck of the woods at Wolverhampton Civil Hall.

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