HOPEFUL SIGNS AT LAST
With restrictions set to start easing, EBAS are planning ahead
I WAS delighted to hear from Home Counties EBA Chairman Bob Williams that HCEBA are planning to hold a meeting on Sunday April 25 at the famous Black Boy pub, 79 Old Watford Road, Bricket Wood, St Albans, AL2 3RU. The meeting will be under cover, and will last from 12.30 to 5pm. Numbers will need to be restricted, so if you want to go please contact HCEBA Secretary Kieran Mccann (firstname.lastname@example.org or 0771 8150 456). This is great news. Of course there’s many a slip, as they say, but thanks to the vaccination plan things do seem to be starting to move. There’s still a long way to go, and we can’t afford to get complacent. But there are at last some hopeful signs.
Hastings EBA Chairman Dave Harris tells me that they’re hoping to meet again at the end of June. I hope so, too.
Dave had rung to tell me about Johnny Clark’s funeral. “It was a lovely service, very dignified,” he said. “I was honoured to be asked to speak about Johnny’s boxing career. His daughter, Natalie, spoke and told many stories about his boxing. His sister recalled how the family would take a box at the Albert Hall whenever he fought there, and would be up in the box, singing! [Clark boxed at the Albert Hall 27 times in his 43-bout career.] I’d known Johnny since 1971 – he was a lovely man.”
Johnny suffered from dementia during the last years of his life, and, said Dave, “Seeing Johnny the way he was was one of the things that gave me the idea for the Ringside Rest and Care Home. He was very well looked after by the care home he was in, but how much nicer if he could have been somewhere where he was surrounded by boxing people.” Incidentally, Natalie asked that the money raised at Johnny’s funeral be donated to the Ringside Charitable Trust – what a lovely gesture. “I used to pick him up and take him to boxing functions, and he loved it,” Dave said. [I remember seeing Johnny at the Manor Place Baths Reunion in 2018, and he was clearly enjoying himself.] “He used to come to Hastings meetings, and he loved doing the karaoke! When this COVID business is over, we’re planning to put on a three
‘SEEING JOHNNY GAVE ME THE IDEA FOR RINGSIDE REST & CARE’
course celebration dinner in Hastings to celebrate Johnny’s life, along with Alan Minter’s and Vince Heckman’s. We’ll have different people there to speak about each of them, and their careers. It’ll be a case of the boxing family coming together, and the money raised will be divided between Ringside and other good causes.”
There’s also a tribute to the late Vince Heckman in the latest Brighton EBA newsletter. I remember when Vince started promoting in the 1980s. He died after a long and painful battle with cancer, which he bore bravely. Also in the newsletter are articles on George Dixon, by Terry Francis, and my good friend Pat Doherty, by Leigh Crompton. Born in Nova Scotia in 1870, Dixon won world titles at both bantam and featherweight, and is credited as being the first world boxing champion from Canada and the first black man to win a world title in any sport. In a 20-year career he packed in 155 recorded bouts, and boxed many times in the UK. Sadly he died in 1908, aged just 37. Pat Doherty was a fine boxer and hard puncher who looked destined to be one of boxing’s ‘nearly men’ – he beat some good people but was turned back in bids for the Southern Area featherweight title and the British super-featherweight belt, dropping decisions to Clyde Ruan and John Doherty respectively. But he’s in the record books as Commonwealth lightweight champion, having stopped holder Mo Hussein on a cut in five rounds at York Hall in January 1989. Today Pat is an active and enthusiastic member of Croydon EBA, rarely missing a meeting.