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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
A thread for anything relating to British boxing history. Could be a fighter profile, an article from a magazine, a description of a fight etc. If you think it's worth posting, then do it :good

As stuff is added, I'll link to it from this first post.


Fighter Profiles:
Rudi Pika

Chris Finnegan-Rudi Schmidtke
Rudi Schmidtke-John Conteh
Lennox Lewis-Justin Fortune
Jimmy Wilde-Pete Herman
John L. Sullivan - Charley Mitchell I + II

London KO's King During Rain-Storm
Jon Thaxton interview for Boxing Monthly (1996)


Woodcock-London - the purses/figures for the fight

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Chris Finnegan-Rudi Schmidtke

"…Southpaw Mildenberger has been sparring with Schmidtke. No offence Karl, but you can't blame us if we hope your work has been a waste of time, for we have big plans for Finnegan.

"It has been reported that an American promoter has offered Chris £39,000 [approximately £430,000 in today's money] to challenge world champion Bob Foster again in the States after his glorious display on my September bill. But as everybody in boxing knows, Levene Promotions are the best paymasters in boxing and I am prepared to top any offer from America or anywhere else."

Harry Levene, Promoter.

Finnegan-Schmidtke on-site programme, page 3.


Finnegan banishes the Bogy-man

"It is unlikely that Chris Finnegan will be a completely satisfied fighter until getting a second crack at Bob Foster's world light-heavyweight title.

"…A return meeting was first mooted in the dressing room only a few minutes after a Foster left hook has sent the completely spent Finnegan on to the seat of his emerald green pants for the full count in the Wembley ring. "Sure, that suits me fine" was the reaction of a Finnegan back to his wisecracking best. "What about tomorrow morning?"

"…Since achieving such a triumph in Mexico just over four years ago [Olympic gold], Finnegan has gone on to become a world class craftsman in the paid ranks, and to prove that on several occasions he has been sold well short.

"Not perhaps with the big and sensational punch, but with an unorthodox-style skill, that even had Foster conceding that he was a genuine world number two…

"It is certain that Finnegan will have little apprehension for his task against Schmidtke and in the second defence of the title he took from the Berlin café owner Conny Velensek at Nottingham earlier this year at the second time of asking.

"Since then he has successfully defended the championship against Holland's fairground shooting gallery proprietor Jan Lubbers. This fight provided Finnegan with a first knock-out win in his 27 professional fights, of which he had lost three.

"At 29, Schmidtke can bang quite a bit with seven of his wins coming inside the distance. It is two years since he made his first European title bid when he was outscored by Italy's Piero Del Papa in his native Frankfurt.

"Del Papa subsequently lost the crown to Velensek who, in 1970, lost a points decision to Schmidtke for the German light-heavyweight title.

"All of which suggests, particularly when recalling Finnegan's two bruising battles against Velensek, that Schmidtke is a durable and tough fighter who will give you value for money in seeking to make the best of his second chance."

Walter Bartleman, Evening Standard Boxing Correspondent

Finnegan-Schmidtke on-site programme, pages 4-5.


Finnegan Loses title​

"LONDON. - Rudi Schmidtke of West Germany won the European light-heavyweight title when he stopped Britain's Chris Finnegan in the 12th round of their scheduled 15 rounds fight here on Tuesday night.

"Schmidtke ended the fight with a superb right-hand punch - two minutes 50 seconds into the 12th round. It split Finnegan's nose so badly that the referee had to halt the contest.

The defeat, the biggest set-back of Finnegan's career, has almost certainly cost him a second world title fight with American champion Bob Foster."

The Sydney Morning Herald; Nov 16, 1972.


"Write me off? I'll show 'em" promises Finnegan​

"…It was a surprise to some people when it was announced that Chris would be boxing again seven weeks later, a defence of his European crown against German Rudi Schmidtke.

"Was this too early after the tremendous contest with Foster? Well, it is true that Chris didn't look as sharp as he had done against the World champion, but he had a good points lead when he sustained a badly-cut nose, and Swiss referee Aime Leschot was forced to stop the contest in the twelfth round.

"…And the Finnegan-John bout was duly secured by promoter Harry Levene for tonight.

"So far, so good. But Chris got what he described as the "dead needle" when it was later announced that also on tonight's bill would be a contest for the European light-heavyweight title between champion Rudi Schmidtke and John Conteh. In fact, he was fuming.

"It has been reasonable for Chris to assume that he would be given first crack at his old title, especially in the circumstances in which he lost it. And he hasn't taken kindly to Conteh not only moving down from heavyweight but getting a crack at the Euro light-heavyweight title immediately.

"But this is, of course, a voluntary defence by Schmidtke, who cannot be blamed for accepting a good pay-day. Same applies to Conteh.

"Finnegan sees this latest move as an indication that some think he is all washed-up, that the Foster fight took so much out of him that he will never be the same force again.

"Chris had only one word to say in reply to these allegations - and that isn't printable…"

Ron Oliver, Assistant Editor of Boxing World

Schmidtke-Conteh on-site programme, page 13.

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Rudi Schmidtke-John Conteh

"…After John Conteh, who was rated as Britain's No. 3 heavyweight, trounced Terry Daniels on the Bugner-Ali bill in Las Vegas, Conteh's manager, George Francis, stated that John was prepared to box at light-heavyweight. And who better to match him against than Rudi Schmidtke, the man who took the European title from Finnegan.

"I had to pay a lot of money before Schmidtke agreed to toss his European crown in the kitty, but you know Levene Promotions - quality only! But if we get a good fight and it gives Britain the chance to regain the European crown, I'm satisfied. The newspapers are talking a lot about matching Conteh (if he wins) with the Finnegan-John winner [that fight was the joint-headline for this bill], but let's wait until the dust and smoke settle from tonight's battles set [Conteh-Finnegan I took place two months later]."

Harry Levene, Promoter

Schmidtke-Conteh on-site programme, page 3.


Not so "Rudi" Easy

"The last time we saw Rudi Schmidtke he was wearing a million-mark smile, he could afford it. He had just upset the odds by beating British champion Chris Finnegan and walked out of this famous arena [Wembley] wearing the crown that said he was the new light-heavyweight champion of Europe.

"I cannot remember any newspaper giving Schmidtke a chance against Finnegan, who had won the European title from Schmidtke's tough compatriot Conny Velensek and had just gone 14 rounds with fearsome Bob Foster, who is probably as good as any title holder in the history of the world light-heavyweight championship.

"But colleague Harry Muccan, writing in Boxing World, warned Chris that although Schmidtke was not (at that time) well-known in Continental circles "Finnegan must not under-estimate him".

"The victory by under-dog Schmidtke over Finnegan made Rudi a national hero in West Germany, where the European crown had rested before Finnegan took it away from Velensek.

"Handsome Schmidtke had failed in a previous bid for European honours. A couple of years ago he took on Italian champion Piero Del Papa and dropped a razoer-edge points decision after 15 hard rounds.

"The only real pointer, and one that compelled us to warn Finnegan that Rudi was not going to be easy was the comparative performances of Finnegan and Schmidtke against Velensek.

"Chris was given a draw when first challenging for the E.M.U. crown in West Berlin against holder Velensek, which meant that Conny kept the crown. Most of us in the hall, including the Germans, made Finnegan a good winner, but our votes did not count.

"In a Nottingham return, Chris was a clear winner, but courageous Conny took our man all the way. In two meetings with Velensek, Schmidtke beat Conny on points and stopped him in four rounds. Rudi also drew with Yugoslavian Yven Prebec, who beat the then British champion Eddie Avoth when they fought for the vacant title.

"Unlike most top-line professionals today, Schmidtke did not serve his apprenticeship in the amateur rings.

"Born in Frankfurt on February 9, 1943, he had his first contest at a local Frankfurt hall against Manfred Slomke and won on points over six rounds in June, 1966.

"He came unstuck in his next bout, dropping a four rounds point verdict to Herbert Willems. His next half-dozen fights resulted in four wins, a draw and a defeat. After another seven wins Schmidtke fought Arnold Prick for the vacant German title and won on points.

"He defended his German crown by stopping Herbert Wick in seven rounds. But Rudi does not usually win the quick way. Of his 29 fights, he has won 24, 8 inside the distance, lost 3 and drawn 2. He has never been stopped.

"Rudi cut Finnegan's nose rather badly when stopping Chris in 12 rounds. He is a good orthodox stylist with a solid left jab and a fair right jab, but he is not a banger and Conteh may be too sharp for him."

Eddie Baxter, Reporter.

Schmidtke-Conteh on-site programme, page 5.


Conteh can wear the Big Crown​

"…The announcement that Conteh was thinking of turning professional led to a managerial tug-of-war to get his name on a British Boxing Board of Control contract. London manager George Francis emerged victorious, with a reputed signing-on fee of £10,000 [£122,000 in today's money].

"Francis did not believe in remote control, with the manager in London and the fighter in Liverpool. He wanted John to be nice and handy, where he could keep him under personal supervision.

"He ordered his prize fighter to move to London and Conteh now lives in a North London luxury flat and trains at the Board of Control gymnasium at the "Noble Art", Haverstock Hill, where he spars daily with stable-mate Bunny Sterling, the British middleweight champion, and other members of Francis' ranch-size stable.

"…The handsome Liverpudlian ran up 11 straight before dropping a hotly disputed points decision to American "fiddler" Eddie Duncan, but that is the only blot on Conteh's fight record.

"For some strange reason fans love to boo John, but I reminded him that they used to do exactly the same to Joe Bugner.

"The fans, bless' em, do this for a lark more than anything else. But it was in a European title fight that Bugner became a hero overnight. He brought the European crown back to Britain by knocking out Germany's Jurgen Blin in the eighth round and the fans jeers turned into cheers.

" Conteh did so well in his last fight, stopping Terry Daniels in six rounds on the Ali-Bugner bill in Las Vegas that he has been established favourite to give Britain a second Continental Crown. If he can copy Bugner, I know that Rudi Schmidtke will understand if I join in the cheering."

Tim Riley, Editor, Boxing World

Schmidtke-Conteh on-site programme, page 7.


Conteh Takes European Title

"John Conteh (Liverpool) regained the European light-heavyweight title for Britain at the Empire Pool, Wembley, last night when he beat Rudiger Schmidtke, of West Germany, through the intervention of the referee after 2min. 28sec, of the twelth round.

"Conteh hopes next to meet Chris Finnegan, who last night successfully defended his British and Commonwealth light-heavyweight titles by outpointing Roy John over 15 rounds.

"Conteh showed exciting punching power as he floored the German champion three times in the sixth round.

"After that Conteh played things rather carefully against an elusive opponent and it was not until the tenth round, with a mixture of left jabs and left hooks to the face, that he began his final assault. Schmidtke was bleeding from the nose and left eyebrow at the start of the twelfth round when a right to the head sent him staggering into the ropes. There he took a standing compulsory count. When the referee had reached eight he wisely decided that the battered German should suffer no more."

The Glasgow Herald; Mar 14, 1973.

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
London KO's King During Rain-Storm​

"We have never seen a contest fought under worse conditions than this. The ring was more fitted for a kiddies' paddling-pool than a boxing match, and by the time London and King entered the ring, in a continuous downpour, yard-brushes had to be used to sweep away the water, which was standing in pools.

"Immediately the two contestants climbed into the watery arena and they both stripped off their shoes and socks, whilst a huge barrel of sawdust was tipped into the centre of the ring and brushed level to establish some kind of foothold.

"In these farcical conditions Brian London, Blackpool, knocked out Howard King, Nevada, after 2 minutes 6 seconds of the sixth round.

"After the usual preliminaries and with torrential rain belting down into the ring the bell went for the first round.

"London tore across the ring and straight away belted at the tall coloured man's midriff with a two-fisted barrage. King, taken by surprise, could only cover up as the rain streamed down his face...

"Both boxers slipped and slithered but somehow managed to keep their balance as each in turn attempted to score with lefts to the face...

"...Then the bell ended the [First] round. At this stage, Wally Thom, the referee, bedecked in plastic raincoat, was seen to converse with someone outside the ring and then went over to London's corner.

"The Blackpool man was evidently pleading with Thom not to stop the bout. The referee then crossed over to King's corner and had a few words there. He wanted to end the fight but told King that as London was ahead on points he would have to declare him the winner. It was then announced that the fight would carry on...

"Shortly after the start of the third round King fell awkwardly in attepting to avoid another London attack and by the time they reached the fourth round London appeared to be more confident and was forcing the pace throughout.

"Two hard rights to the head sent the American slithering across the ring and before he knew it, London had landed another stinging right handed to the same spot and King's legs wobbled...

"King was first across the ring as the bell sounded the start of the fifth round and he surprised London with a left and right to the head.

"This only stung the Blackpool man into action and with a sweeping right hook to the head London floored his man for a count of "six".

"On rising, King fell into another clinch as London came forward again, but later in the round the American was on the deck again for a "three" count, this time from a slip.

"The sixth round opened with both boxers scoring with left jabs to the face, then each man again slipped in the sawdust in trying to avoid left hooks.

"Then more sparring, and more slipping, finally, with London rushing at his man, King was sent slithering across the ring on his back and came to rest with his bare feet touching the ring apron.

"He shook his head, half sat up and looked around as the seconds ticked away, then decided to get up but it was too late.

He had just failed to beat the count, leaving London the winner of a fight that never should have started."

Boxing News; August 17, 1962.

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I'm from Liverpool as most of you know, i was fucking baffled as to why John Conteh wasn't carrying the olympic torch this weekend

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Rudi Pika

Division: Heavyweight
Record: 13-0 (6KOs)

"When one thinks of the way Frank Bruno has been carrying all before him as a pro, it's obvious that anyone who can claim he's given Bruno trouble, and taken him to a disputed verdict, merits respect. Welshman Rudi Pika can claim just that.

"Pika clashed with Bruno in the ABA heavyweight final in 1980, and, though he looked no more than a light-heavy beside the big, powerful Bruno, Pika's experience and southpaw style gave the young Londoner all the trouble he could handle for three rounds. At the end, everyone agreed it was close - and the result, a majority decision for Bruno, was met with a storm of booing.

"The Welshman turned pro in November that year - nearly 17 months earlier than Bruno - but, surprisingly, has managed only nine contests. All have been against British opponents and Pika has won them all, five inside the distance.

"In his first ten months, Pika fought here [Wembley Arena] four times and twice at the Albert Hall, disposing of David Fry and Bob Young in the first round, Derek Simpkin and Reg Long in the third, and clearly outscoring Ricky James and Bob Hennessey. Then came a six-month break - and the effects showed, as Pika laboured rather to outpoint Steve Gee here in March 1982 - despite winning by a very clear margin (Frank Bruno was also on the bill, having his second pro contest).

"It was another 14 months before Pika boxed again - this time at the Royal Albert Hall, with Bruno topping the bill against American Barry Funches (Bruno having had another 13 contests since he and Pika had appeared at Wembley). Pika was facing Swindon veteran Eddie Neilson, and once again his inactivity told against him - Rudi well won the first three rounds but faded badly as Neilson refused to give up and kept throwing punches.

"A big rally by Pika in the seventh appeared to leave them both with everything to play for in the final three minutes - but, disappointingly, an eye injury sustained by Neilson at the close of the seventh worsened in seconds, and referee Harry Gibbs stopped the bout in the interval, with the eye completely shut. A bit of luck for Pika - who knows? Certainly he looked a lot sharper, and weighed nearly a stone lighter, when he stepped into the ring at Cardiff in September, and took a clear verdict over fellow-Welshman Winston Allen after eight rather bad-tempered rounds.

"The layoffs have been a nuisance but Pika is still only 22 and is certainly a force to be reckoned with in the domestic heavyweight ranks."

The Welshman won his next contest, which was featured on the Bruno-Smith bill, scoring a six-round decision over American journeyman Lynwood Jones. This took his tally to 10 wins in as many fights. He finished 1984 with a 2nd round stoppage against the unheralded Franklin Otts.

Inactivity, however, plagued the talented Pika, keeping him out of the ring for over nine months. When he finally returned, a routine 8-round decision over Steve Gee failed to set the world alight.

A further nine months away from the public eye did not stop the interest diminishing for what seemed a promising venture in the paid ranks at one point. Yet a match-up with the once-beaten contender Glenn McCrory seemed to be just the spark that would reignite Pika's faltering career, presuming he won. A win is what Pika delivered, and victory over the future IBF cruiserweight champion raised his stock once more.

Sadly, his fight with McCrory proved to be the last for the enigmatic Pika. Over two years after his last victory, Boxing News delivered the report that would close the chapter on the career, and ultimately life, of Rudi Pika:

"Unbeaten Cardiff heavyweight Rudi Pika has been found dead, at the age of 26. He was found on May 26th with wrist injuries in the bathroom of a house he was renovating in the Ely area of the city. He leaves a widow and two children, one of them a new-born baby.

"Pika, son of an Estonian father, was a schoolboy champion and twice won the Welsh ABA heavyweight title, losing the 1980 ABA final on a controversial points decision to the teenage Frank Bruno.

"He turned pro later that year with Mickey Duff, but never seemed to show much enthusiasm for the business, having only 13 fights - all wins - since then. His last contest was a points victory over Glenn McCrory, now Commonwealth cruiserweight champion, at the Albert Hall in April 1986."

*Bruno-Smith on-site programme, page 21.
**Boxing News; June 3, 1988. Page 24.

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
Jon Thaxton interview for Boxing Monthly (1996)

'...So when in early February he was selected as the intended doormat for British, Commonwealth and WBO Inter Continental king Paul "Scrap Iron" Ryan to trample upon at the York Hall, the third choice sub instructed manager Brendan Ingle to accept without inquiring into (let alone bartering over) his modest appearance fee (£3,500).

...He required less than one round to land a pile driving left-hander on the Eastender's airborne jaw. Mission accomplished in just 138 seconds. "Since watching Ryan beat Oscar Palomino I'd always fancied the job," says the articulate and pleasantly humble Norwich man. "Styles make fights and his jaw has always been 'there'."

Installed at two days warning, Thaxton prospered from a further 72 hours preperation when an IRA bomb caused late-hour amendments to both original venue and date. Twice the Angolan settled the scales inside the 10st championship limit only to discover, much to his chagrin, that Camp "Scrap Iron" were unwilling to place any of their belts at risk. "He had to fight me anyway. I presume he thought he'd win so surely it would have been an easy notch on his Lonsdale belt," says the baffled victor.

After an outstanding, if materially unproductive life as a kickboxer (British senior champion at 15, European king a year later), the Bruce Lee clone and bit-part amateur pug was discovered by no less an authority than Chris Eubank during an Eastern pit-stop on the monocled one's much scoffed "educational" tour of Britain's inner cities in 1991. Eubank advised Thaxton his ambitions might best be furthered by relocating to Professor Ingle's fistic University in Wincobank, South Yorkshire. "I had him since he was 16 and voluntarily he'd clean out the gym at 5am in the morning and sweep up outside," says Ingle.

Yet in spite of these laudable personal attributes and an obvious aptitude for combat (victorious in 57 of 60 kick boxing contests), the Irish sage contends he was forced to dissemble then reconstruct Thaxton's fighting techniques. "From the off Jonathan was very fit, marvelously disciplined and a quick learner but as with Pele Reid in many ways it's worse than starting off fresh because they're already set in their (bad) ways."

Within three months of his 18th birthday, the persuasive Mr Ingle badgered Thaxton into permanently abandoning the fruitless world of kick boxing for a career as a paid boxer (Thaxton had 12 amateur fights, winning 9).

"...He'd fight in everybody else's backyard but he had a remarkable determination to succeed. You really have to nail this kid to the floor to lick him. His only fault was that he was too nice," states Ingle.

Five points successes, albeit against rather unchallenging opposition, convinced Ingle to desert the comfort zone and pitch his 19 year old novice in with multi-titled amateur Dean Hollington (13-1 pro record) in a sink or swim challenge at the York Hall. The young Thaxton proved remarkably buoyant, providing first evidence his steely resolve...and knockout punch. "That put me on the map. People whispered that I was too light a puncher, a boy in a man's world, but I love to prove people wrong."

Norfolk's finest is only too eager to exploit the plethora of appetising and lucrative duels that can be made but has remained frustratingly redundant since toppling Ryan. And without any belts as bait expect the division's major players to keep a respectful distance from him. "The money's incidental, I just want Ryan again and this time with all the belts at stake," concludes the likeable banger who still resides with his parents. "OK he has the belts but I've beaten convincingly and he must want to reverse that. The way I see it, it's more a case of me giving him another chance."'

Boxing Monthly; May 1996. Pages 40-41.


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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Woodcock-London - the purses/figures for the fight

These figures, for the card headlined by Bruce Woodcock vs. Jack London for London's British and Commonwealth heavyweight titles in 1945, are as followed:

Jack London (£4,000) vs. Bruce Woodcock (£1,600)
Jock McAvoy (£400) vs. George Howard (£225)
Eric Boon (£200) vs. Henry Hall (£65)
Dave Crowley (£275) vs. Tom Smith (£183)
Alf Brown (£135) vs. George Davis (N/A)
Jimmy Webster (N/A) vs. Tommy Plowright (N/A)

Stand-bys got £10 a piece and the total purse amount was £7,436. According to a currency converter, £4,000 back then was the equivalent of £139,440 in today's money.

Some other figures from the bill:

Rental of White Hart Lane - £450
5,000 chairs + transport - £650
Contribution to BBBoC - £336 5s
Printing - £500
Stewards - £148

The paid attendance for the bill was 26,479 and Solomons - the promoter - made a £400 profit overall.

Jack Solomons Tells All; pages 56-61.

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wasn't sure where to post this, but the thread description brought me here with it :) (95 isn't too recent for this it??)


i was scanning in articles from old boxing magazines i have for a thread elsewhere...and i came across the programme for the lennox lewis v justin fortune fight (1995), and was remembering it, so thought i'd post here...

this was a big night here in ireland...a former, and recent, heavyweight champion boxing here...we {the group i was with} knew nothing of fortune, and were there to see lewis.....last time a heavyweight champion fought in ireland was muhammad ali v al 'blue' lewis in 1972.

it was a funny fight, because being there watching it live fortune looked like he was doing superbly, better than it looked on the tv when we looked back on it at home...

after the first round, everyone was impressed with fortunes style and effort...and all of a sudden there were lots of shouts towards fortune of 'go on son' and talk between folk 'this fellas alright'.

anyway, it was a great night for me this night being there...seeing a heavyweight champ live in action (albeit between titles)...glad i seen him live...

side note to this night....a friend of mine fought on the bill...vinny 'the sligo kid' feeney...i'm not sure but i think it was louis viecth (who went on to become a trainer as some of you will know), but i could be wrong on that opponent..anyway....there was this big giant heavyweight from barry mcguigans part of the world..monaghan...who was boxing on the was a terrible fight...boring, grabbing, mauling sad affair..hard to watch.....but after the fight, vinny introduced me to him....i shook hands with the giant and said messing "some day you'll be fighting tyson" (tyson had a fight on around then so was topical), he replied "jeysus...wouldn't that be some dream alright"....big lumps name was kevin mcbride.....true story.

here's a scan from the fight programme i got...

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