FOR years, whenever the name Eddie Hearn was mentioned in relation to boxing, I automatically thought of the Battersea fighter from the 1950s. Now all that has changed. The promoter’s name is now known worldwide to everyone interested in the sport, and that of the old-time boxer is completely forgotten.
In 1940, during the height of the Blitz, a bomb fell in South London and as well as shattering all of the buildings close to where it landed, its shrapnel pierced the air and tore through the leg of a young boy playing nearby. He was told by the doctor that his fledgling boxing career was over and that he may never be able to walk properly again. The school that he attended had previously been reduced to rubble and most of the surrounding houses, where he lived, were also blasted to nothingness. After being evacuated, the young lad slowly fought his way back to health and he retook his place in the boxing ring.
This was not the only brush with death that Battersea’s Eddie Hearn was to experience. Ten years later and the young man, who had been called up for national service and was at home on leave from his posting in Germany, was offered a contest for his club, Battersea ABC. His commanding officer granted him a leave extension and he was able to take part in the bout. The plane, a Dakota on which he had been originally due to fly back to Germany, crashed in the North Sea. Having survived both experiences, Eddie was determined to make the most of his boxing career, and after he was demobbed it really took off.
Hearn won the London SW Divisional heavyweight title in 1951 and was then narrowly beaten in the final of the London Championships by his great rival, Joe Crickmar. The following year he went all the way, beating Crickmar in the London finals, and then posting victories over Albert Halsey and Dennis Rowe at Wembley to win the 1952 ABA heavyweight title. He was then selected to represent Great Britain, at heavyweight, in that year’s Olympic Games in Helsinki. Henry Cooper was the light-heavy representative and the two of them exchanged many punches while sparring together for the tournament.
Despite winning his opening contest at the Olympics, Eddie was soundly beaten in the second series by the Finnish entrant, losing by a good margin on points. In his final amateur bout, in November 1952, Eddie represented the ABA and helped the team to an 8-2 victory over Spain by clearly beating Ramon Moncasi. With such an excellent amateur pedigree, high hopes were placed upon Hearn when he turned to the professional ranks in 1953. There were very many decent young boxers looking to spice up the heavyweight division at this time, including fellow Londoners Joe Crickmar, Dinny Powell and Peter Toch.
On his debut, at Manor Place Baths in Walworth, Hearn did not look impressive in bashing out a six-round points victory over Jack Curran of Belfast. Part of the reason for this was due to a decision made by Eddie and his trainer that, despite being a natural southpaw, he would box in the orthodox style as a pro. He looked similarly unconvincing until he switched back to his natural stance. It seems an odd choice to have made and one wonders why it was taken.
He boxed his way to the final of a £500 novice heavyweight competition in front over 55,000 people at the White City Stadium, on the undercard of the Randolph Turpin-Charles Humez fight, but then had to withdraw from the tournament with a broken hand. His career never really recovered and, despite a highlight when knocking out Dinny Powell in 10 rounds in a Southern Area heavyweight title eliminator, he left the game in 1957 having won 13 of 20 contests. The lesser-known Eddie Hearn was a good’un, nonetheless.