PEOPLE have often asked me why I am so fascinated by the exploits of long-forgotten boxers who were mostly active before I was even born. The truth is that I have always been a social historian very much interested in Britain between the wars. This may have something to do with my grandfather telling me stories of his youth when I was quite young. I grew up watching the return of Muhammad Ali and well remember his three contests with Jerry Quarry, Oscar Bonavena and Joe Frazier.
A love of boxing quickly became allied to my love of history and it wasn’t long before I was visiting Newcastle Library to look at the newspaper reports of the second Jack Dempsey-Gene Tunney bout in 1927. I quickly noticed that there was a lot of boxing taking place in and around the Newcastle area at that time. I started to write the results down and compile records for these fighters. That took me to Gateshead Ex-Boxers Association, where I became President at the age of 19. The old-timers couldn’t believe how much I knew about their careers. Most of these fighters that I got to know boxed in the 1920s and 1930s, but one of them was older.
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