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Yesterday’s Heroes: The life and times of Jimmy Revie, London’s KO specialist

British featherweight Jimmy Revie, March 1974 (Photo by Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Miles Templeton remembers the career of Jimmy Revie

BRITISH boxing during the 1970s is mainly remembered today for the exploits of some great British champions that regularly featured on the television. Men like John Conteh, Alan Minter, Joe Bugner, Dave Boy Green and Charlie Magri readily spring to mind. Less well-remembered are the likes of Alan Richardson, Tim Wood and Billy Waith, all three of whom I have featured in previous articles.   Another excellent, but less well-known, fighter from this era is Jimmy Revie, the British featherweight champion between 1969 and 1971.

Jimmy came from Stockwell, in South London. Close to Wandsworth, Battersea and Brixton, this area had been a breeding ground for quality boxers for decades before Jimmy came along. The first reference I can find for Jimmy in BN is in 1960, when it was reported that he had won the National Schools Junior 5st 4lbs Class A title at Shoreditch Town Hall. On a day when the reporter will have seen 36 different contests for these Schools titles, the one involving Jimmy was the one that stood out. Under the headline “Revie Gets Gold Star” he wrote that “This year’s winner of the Gold Star award for being the most stylish boxer went to Jimmy Revie (West Square Secondary, Southwark).  Boxing in the lightest division he gave an accomplished performance in outpointing George McKeown.”

Jimmy would go on to carry this reputation as a classy boxer throughout the next 16 years of his ring career, both as an amateur and as a professional. He won ABA Junior titles in 1963 and 1964 whilst boxing for Brixton, and in 1966 he was the beaten semi-finalist in the ABA seniors at featherweight, boxing for Fitzroy Lodge.

Jimmy turned pro later that year with manager Arthur Boggis, an ex-pro himself, and the stable included Maurice Cullen, Harry Scott, Roy Enifer and Ron Smith of Liverpool. I would pay good money today to be able to see the sparring that must have taken place between Maurice and Jimmy, both of whom oozed class.

In 1967, Jimmy was featured on a handbill for a show at the Seymour Hall in which he was described as “London’s brilliant KO specialist”. He had taken part in eleven contests by that time, all of which had been won inside the distance. His 12th opponent, Hugh Baxter, went the same way that night.   Peter Lavery lasted only two rounds eight days later and then Jimmy was selected by the Board to contest the vacant, and newly created, British junior-lightweight title against fellow-Londoner Jimmy Anderson. I think I am correct in saying that this was the first time that a British boxer fought for a British title having won all of his previous contests by stoppage. I would be interested to hear from anyone who can provide an earlier example. At the Royal Albert Hall, in February 1968, Jimmy came unstuck, being stopped himself in the ninth round after being on the canvas for two counts.

Revie’s time would come the following year when he won the vacant British featherweight title at the World Sporting Club, beating John O’Brien of Glasgow, in five rounds. He was presented with the belt by his immediate successor, Howard Winstone, who had recently retired, and BN reported that “Almost as delighted as Revie himself was Jimmy’s idol and former clubmate, Dave Charnley, former British and European lightweight king.”

Jimmy successfully defended his title against another great, Alan Rudkin, then fought courageously in a losing attempt for the European title against Jose Legra, before he lost out to Evan Armstrong in 1971. Victory would have earned him the belt outright, but Armstrong’s body punches proved too much.

He boxed on for another five years, meeting men like Jim Watt, Vernon Sollas, Charlie Nash and Johnny Cheshire. He won 37 from 44 and in his later years maintained an interest in the game, as can be seen by the accompanying picture of him alongside another good South-Londoner, Sid Smith.

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