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24 NOVEMBER 2014

 

Liverpool, A Boxing City


Anfield, The famous soccer stadium staged regular boxing events
Anfield, The famous soccer stadium staged regular boxing events

By Nick Kelly: It was once one of the most prominent boxing cities in the UK, if not the world, producing many great champions such as World Featherweight challenger, Nel Tarleton, his foe on several occasions Dom Volante and more recently WBC Light Heavyweight Champion John Conteh. The city even hosted an exhibition bout of the great Joe Louis during the Second World War.

Fortunes have since changed for both the city of Liverpool and boxing in general. Liverpool’s illustrious crop of fighters ceased to exist and teenagers’ attention turned towards the city’s hugely successful football teams.

The recent exposure however, of professional fighters Paul Smith, Derry Matthews and Tony Bellow and the amateur star headed to the Olympics, David Price, may once again pull the crowds back in. The city has a newly built arena along the dock with rumours abound of the second UK vs. US contender series heading there.

Ray Physick, a Liverpool author and historian recently completed his first book featuring accounts on Liverpool fight venues of the past with a second headed to the book shelves in October. His second offering entitled simply ‘Liverpool Boxing Venues’ features photographs, memorabilia and accounts of the stadia and venues which made Liverpool one of Britain’s prime cities for boxing.


Liverpool, Ray Physick says,was ’one of the pioneers of open air boxing’ as Anfield, the home ground of Liverpool FC, began to host bouts after the closure of the infamous Pudsey Street venue.

The first book ‘Played in Liverpool’ part of the Played in Britain series includes accounts of the night 40,000 baying fans crammed into Anfield to witness Peter Kane’s successful defeat of Jackie Jurich for the world flyweight title in September of 1938 and the ground’s debut as a boxing venue when Nel Tarleton boxed Johnny Cuthbert at featherweight on the 6th November 1930.

The book also reveals the uncovering of Liverpool Stadium’s Foundation stone, after its closure in 1987. On the eve of the demolition of the building, many former boxers at the venue were allowed to take artefacts from the venue. One such was the foundation stone taken by the Thompson family, and housed as pride of place in their barbershop, behind Anfield’s Kop stand.
When the barbershop was demolished, years later, the son of the owner stored the stone away in his garage with the intention of it being displayed in Liverpool FC’s museum. The one metre by one metre stone inscribed by Lord Lonsdale with the names of the four directors of the stadium in the corners was too big for the museum. It will now however be displayed in the Liverpool museum from 2010.

Mr. Physick is also one of the team behind the intention to create a Boxing Hall of Fame in Britain. A half a million pound bid was submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund last December with the announcement of their decision expected in June. The project would interview between 100 and 200 boxers, including those of the 1948 London Olympic team and digitise old archives such as photographs and fight records. Although the project would initially be focused on London, as the bid is supported by the London ex-boxers association (LEBA), he said he hoped it would become of “national significance.”

The three year project would culminate in an exhibition at the Museum in Docklands in 2012 with a companion book, and the oral history placed with the Oral History Society and the LEBA.

April 29, 2008


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