FOR a generation of young Jewish males in London’s East End – the sons of impoverished immigrants from Russia or Poland – boxing was a possible way to break free from the slums. Ted Kid Lewis, who won world welterweight honours, was the most successful Jewish-English boxer and arguably Britain’s greatest fighter ever. But where did Lewis and other East End Jews of his time learn their trade?
The Judean Social and Athletic Club was where it all started for Lewis and many other Jewish fighters. Part boxing hall, part gym, part social club, it was founded in 1902 by brothers Dave and Barney Stitcher to encourage Jewish youngsters to participate in sport. It was best known, though, for its Sunday afternoon fight shows.
The club was at 54 Princes Square, off Cable Street, in a loft high above a stable and reached via a ladder. Hundreds of spectators would crowd the place to near-suffocation, many of them there to place bets.