ON November 7, 1975, Boxing Information revealed an article about Battersea’s Ray Fallone beneath the heading: “Ray goals to exit with a win.” Three days later, Ray stepped into the ring for an eight-rounder with Mick Hampston of Lewisham, on the Greyhound Resort, Croydon, for his a centesimal skilled outing. Regardless of giving younger Mick a lot to consider, Ray was outpointed. BN reported that “Ray was by no means damage, and, true to type, boxed for a lot of the contest with a broad grin on his face. He completed the combat unmarked.”
On the finish, Ray sportingly clapped his opponent earlier than he himself was rewarded with a heat tribute from Board Secretary Ray Clarke. On the time, it was extensively acknowledged that Ray can be the final of the 100-bout professionals, such was the state of the sport. There have been some glorious fighters round, however there have been merely not sufficient exhibits being staged for anybody to have the ability to have so many bouts, particularly as boxers tended to have shorter, and harder, careers again then.
Quick ahead to 2019 when, within the annual British rankings, BN listed the names of eight boxers, then energetic, who had joined the ‘100 membership’, with two of them having 200 fights or extra. Within the interval from 1975 to now, however particularly because the mid-Nineties, many fighters grew to become centurions, with Peter Buckley and Kristian Laight each having 300 contests or extra. This group of boxers was spearheaded by Seamus Casey and Dean Bramhald.
No person again in 1975 would have predicted that this might occur. The explanation it did is due to the appearance of ‘the journeyman’ – the ring-wise veteran, continuously boxing week after week, and there to check the potential of the ‘house’ fighter. I’ve seen most of those lads myself, normally from ringside, and I can attest to their ringcraft. Most of them are much better than their file suggests, and readers of Peter Buckley’s latest guide, King of the Journeymen, will recognize simply how a lot is required to have the ability to play this function.
In soccer, to hitch a ‘100 membership’ is normally reserved for the easiest – 100 Premier League objectives or 100 England caps, as an illustration. In cricket, to attain a first-class century is the mark of an excellent batsman, and solely 25 gamers within the historical past of the sport have scored 100 centuries. In boxing, the reverse is true, as it seems that solely the journeymen, the perennial losers, handle to have 100 contests. Essentially the most profitable boxers hardly ever get near that quantity, however this was not all the time the case.
The primary 100-plus professionals began to seem by the primary few years of the twentieth century, with most of them having had lengthy careers within the small halls round London. I’ve information of greater than 1,000 British and Irish fighters who’ve managed to hitch this membership, and the very nice majority of them received much more fights than they misplaced. Their actual heyday was within the Nineteen Thirties, when 740 boxers who fought throughout that decade had 100 bouts or extra, with 546 of them having profitable information. Lots of them grew to become British, European and even world champions. Essentially the most well-known of them might be Len Wickwar, for whom I’ve traced 471 contests.
I’ll choose simply one in all these boxing centurions at random to show the kind of boxer that we had in these days. Arthur “Boy” Fringe of Smethwick, a flyweight and bantamweight, was energetic for simply seven years between 1928 and 1935, dropping solely 37 of his 150 contests. He fought two British title eliminators, held each the Southern Space flyweight and bantamweight titles, and beat champions galore, earlier than retiring in his mid-20s, full with a cauliflower ear.
Each single member of this honourable membership deserves nice credit score – Buckley, Edge, Fallone and all the remainder of them, be they champions or journeymen, winners or losers, for they’re the game’s spine.