STILL IN THE GAME
Two ex- ghters are now coaches at amateur clubs I WAS shocked to learn of the death of Mick Smith, for so many years a real stalwart of the EBA movement. Mick and his brother, Bill, used to travel all over the country to attend EBA meetings and functions, and I’m sure all my readers will join me in sending condolences to Bill and all Mick’s friends. I learned a few days beforehand that Mick had terminal cancer and had been given six months to live, but in fact he died following a heart attack. Mick was President of the Eastern Area EBA, with Bill Vice-president, and I had to break the news to Secretary Ron Springall. “I can’t believe it,” Ron said. “I was speaking to him at the weekend.”
Ron also gave me the sad news that Eastern Area were folding. “We’ve only got two members now – we can’t keep going,” he said. “We just can’t attract new blood.” That’s the problem so many EBAS have, of course, and many of them have worked out strategies to try to get new people in. Ipswich, for instance, has instituted annual trophies for the area’s best amateurs, and members also support local pros by attending their fights.
They also hold two lunches each year, and I was honoured to be invited to the one this month at the Ipswich Hotel, Copdock. An excellent roast meal, and a great atmosphere. An inscribed tankard was presented to President Vic Thurlow, whom Secretary Erik Roper described in his citation as “a stalwart and linchpin of our Association for many years.” Afterwards, Vic told me he had been a member for around 30 years, and President for the past six. I was delighted to be on the same table as a number of people I knew, or knew of. Erik has been a regular correspondent for years, and also there was the Goult family – Mark, plus parents Cliff and Jackie, regular attendees at EBA functions. Mark’s health problems have been well-documented, and he and his family have the true fighting spirit.
Two men I remember as boxers are now running amateur clubs. Graham Moughton was a fine amateur, who captained the UK team at the 1972 Munich Olympics. He promoted for a time, but now devotes himself to the Holland Shore ABC.
Former ABA semi-finalist Rory Burke, there with wife Julie, is trainer for Patricks ABC. I remember Rory as a pro in the 1980s – in fact I covered his debut for BN in August 1981. It was at Carrow Road stadium (Norwich City’s football ground), and just about the weirdest set-up I’ve ever experienced – the ring set up on a stage erected on scaffolding above one
end of the pitch, with a steep flight of steps to be negotiated by fighters, officials and reporters to get to ringside. But it worked. In the main event, two-weight British and European champion Pat Cowdell outpointed Frenchman Samuel Meck – and Rory Burke, I wrote, “showed plenty of promise,” forcing Keith Foreman to retire after two rounds with a damaged nose. In all, Rory had 15 bouts, winning six and drawing one. He challenged Paul Huggins for the Southern Area title.
As most of you know, the 2019 British Ex-boxers Hall of Fame Luncheon is being staged by Essex EBA. The date is Sunday September 22, and tickets can be obtained from Secretary Raymond Lee – but not before November 1. The ticket hotline number is 0780 773 9560, and the cost is £35 per head. “We have not increased the price since the HOF started,” Ray said. Demand is bound to be huge – this is always a sell-out – but please note that tickets will not be sent out until payment is received.
Essex hold their Christmas Party on December 16 – directly after their monthly meeting at their HQ, the Naval and Military Club, 20 Royal Street, Southend-on-sea, SS1 1DU. Tickets are £15 each and there will be a buffet, raffle and live music.
North Staffs EBA Secretary Richard Vaughan contacted me to say that they now meet on the first Wednesday of the month at 7.30pm at The Leopard, 21 Market Place, Burslem, Stoke-on-trent, ST6 3AA. Their Christmas Dinner is on Wednesday December 19.
SAD LOSS: Mick Smith, pictured with his brother Bill [right], will be missed