I HAVE recently been researching the record of Vince Hawkins of Eastleigh. Vince became the British middleweight champion in 1946 but is now largely forgotten. Eastleigh has only ever produced a handful of boxers, but in Vince and Jan Magdziarz, who twice beat Alan Minter on cuts, the town has two middleweights it can be proud of.
Hawkins has one of the longest unbeaten records from debut in the history of the British ring. Nowadays it is quite normal for a fighter to have a long unbeaten run largely because it takes a long time for today’s prospects to step up and fight someone of their own class. They are fed a long diet of journeymen with losing records and only the very best, having stepped up, maintain their undefeated record.
When Vince was boxing, during the Second World War, things were very different. It was normal to match lads of similar abilities right from the start of their career and even the very best champions had many defeats on their record before they reached the top. This is how they learnt their trade, a loss often teaching them far more than a handful of wins would have done. It would be much better for the sport, in my view, if things happened like this today.