History | Issue | Premium | Jul 11 2019

The ‘worst boxers ever’ were better than you think

Miles Templeton explains why it's not always best to judge boxers by their records
boxers

I FREQUENTLY see articles posted online about who is the worst boxer of all time. Some of the authors seem to think that the number of career defeats is all that is needed to define this. A national newspaper recently described Peter Buckley as the world’s worst boxer based simply upon the fact that he lost on 256 occasions. Buckley was a good journeyman and could be quite a handful for many an aspiring champion. To call him the world’s worst boxer is extremely insulting. Another name that often appears on these lists is Arnold Kid Sheppard (pictured) of Ferndale, South Wales. Arnold lost 187 times in a career which lasted from 1925 to 1939, and for his name to be included is scandalous. Arnold had 115 victories and he beat champions along the way, including Pat Butler of Leicester, the British welterweight champion in the mid-1930s. Arnold fought against more champions than some boxers have contests these days and he must be extremely high up on any list of boxers who fought the most rounds. Most of his 352 bouts were over 10, 12 or 15 rounds. Early last year, I wrote an article on the British boxers who had had the most fights and at the time I stated that Arnold took part in 338. Recent research that I have been doing on boxing in Wales in the mid-1920s has revealed 14 more.

Ferndale, a small mining village, is right at the head of the Rhondda Fach valley. If one continues up over the mountains going north, then one arrives at Aberdare. Most of the traffic, however, heads south, down the valley to Porth and, ultimately, to Pontypridd and Cardiff. I suspect that Arnold had come to the area for work in the pits. A succession of strikes and industrial disputes within the coal mines at this time meant that money was short, so Sheppard turned to his fists to survive. After a handful of contests, he was matched over 15 rounds against Ginger Jones of Ammanford at the Workmen’s Hall in Ferndale. Jones went on to become the Welsh featherweight champion and was good enough to box an eliminator for the British title. In 1925, he was yet to attain such heights but, having lost only one of his eight fights, he was a good match for young Arnold. It is a sign of just how much the sport has changed that two such good prospects should be matched in such a small village. That was the way boxing was back then – no padded records, no ‘home’ and ‘away’ fighters, and a large crowd of miners cheering on their local hero over the championship course. In the event, the boxer, Jones, triumphed over the fighter, Sheppard, on points.

Subscribe now to keep reading

We're chuffed you’re enjoying our website, but I'm afraid you need to be a subscriber to read this story.

As a subscriber you'll get access to all online content, including weekly issues - you can opt for digital only or print and digital - plus an online archive of weekly digital editions back to January 2012.

You'll also be helping to support our editorial independence so we can continue to get to the heart of the stories that truly matter to you, the reader. Every subscription we secure will go directly to ensuring that Boxing News retains its voice for many years to come.

If you're not ready to subscribe there are plenty of free articles on the site you can enjoy by registering

To enjoy premium content such as this story, and to get the weekly issue you will need to subscribe

Got an account? Sign in

 

Boxing News Shop