EARLIER this month, father and son Lee and Anton Haskins boxed on the same bill in Bristol. I have been unable to find any other instance of this happening in over 100 years of British boxing history. The closest I can get to a similar feat involves a long-forgotten Belgian journeyman heavyweight, Prosper Beck. This man only ever won one contest in a 22-bout career that spanned nine years. Despite this poor record, Beck went in with three British champions and two European champions at the top weight. The reason he stands out is because he is the only fighter who boxed both a father and a son in a British ring, and he did so against the only father and son to have ever held the British heavyweight title.
Jack London was born in Hartlepool just before the first world war. He was a rough, tough brawler during the early part of his career but, as he started to develop some more orthodox ring skills, he moved gradually towards title contention. In 1944 he beat Freddie Mills, another noted slugger, in a 15-round brawl in Manchester to become the British heavyweight champion. His reign was short-lived as he was knocked out by Bruce Woodcock the following year. Jack plodded on for four more years and in June 1949, in his hometown, he boxed Beck in an eight-rounder at the Engineers Club.
Boxing News reported that old Jack was in far better shape than he had been in years and he stopped the Belgian in five rounds without particularly extending himself. Two bad stoppage defeats later that year put paid to Jack’s career and he bowed out at the age of 36.