BOXING people have always been renowned for their generosity. If there’s a good cause that needs supporting, you can rely on them to rally round and give unstintingly of both money and time. And, while this is of course not the reason, it does a lot to raise the profile of an EBA if it’s seen to be supporting a good cause – to be concerned about the present, not simply be reminiscing about the past.
Nordoff Robbins is a great charity that provides music therapy across a wide spectrum – from elderly people with Alzheimer’s Disease, to young children with autism, all can benefit. And the boxing community has supported it for a long time. In recent years, Frank Warren has put on an annual dinner show at the London Hilton. On the Dinner Committee is London EBA Secretary and Treasurer Ray Caulfield – and, Ray, along with long-time LEBA member (and former European and British super-middleweight champion) James Cook MBE, arrange for a number of former champions to attend, each hosting a table. This is an additional selling-point for the evening, and ensures it’s always well-supported.
This year Ray said to me: “Come along and see for yourself what it’s like!” So I did, and the atmosphere was tremendous – so many people packed into one room to support a worthy cause. There were nine former world champions present – Billy Schwer, Maurice Hope, Barry Jones, Colin McMillan, Darren Barker, John Conteh, David Haye, Charlie Magri and Tyson Fury – the last-named receiving this year’s Nordoff Robbins Boxing Icon Award. LEBA members present included Chairman Charlie Wright and committee members Bob Cheeseman and Peter Stanley. Several members of Essex EBA also made it, as did Home Counties Chairman (and Star referee) Bob Williams.
With an excellent meal, cabaret provided by Rick Astley, auction brilliantly conducted by Charlie Ross (whom many will know from BBC TV’s Bargain Hunt), and former Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow being amongst those present, it was a terrific evening. And by providing so many champions LEBA can certainly claim to have contributed to its success. Another London member present was writer Mike Taub, an avid supporter of LEBA’s Young Guns (one of whom, Harvey Horn, won in the evening’s main event). In the current Seconds Out, LEBA’s monthly newsletter, Mike pays tribute to recently deposed British super-welterweight champion Ted Cheeseman (Bob’s nephew). Ted was gutted at the verdict for Scott Fitzgerald, but, as Mike says, “At 24, he’s young enough to come again. A return is a natural.” Yet another example of an EBA supporting today’s fighters.
Mike also pays tribute to the late Roy Beaman, mentioning that it was Roy’s former conqueror, Kenny Field, who had telephoned him with the sad news of Roy’s death. The affection and respect between former opponents is something people outside boxing find hard to understand, but it’s something you can see at virtually any EBA meeting. Kenny was willing to take on the big-punching Roy, and beat him on points (Empire Pool, Wembley, March 1961) – but confessed to Mike that watching Roy in action was “frightening”. We’re coming up to the Christmas party season. This Sunday (December 1), LEBA will be staging their annual do, with buffet and cabaret, after the normal monthly meeting at the Sports Bar and Grill, Old Street. One week later (December 8), Brighton EBA hold their Christmas party at The Romans, Manor Hall Road, Southwick. And on December 15, Home Counties have their do at Bricket Wood Sports & Social Club, Oak Avenue, Bricket Wood, St Albans. I hope they all go well, and get plenty of support. I know Croydon are contemplating going to both Brighton and Home Counties – and, as I’ve said before, supporting other EBAs is vital. If your Association is staging a Christmas party, do let me have the details, and I’ll happily publicise it.