N latest years, British rings have been filled with international boxers and so they present the spine for very lots of the small corridor reveals held up and down the nation. Most of those boxers come from Japanese Europe and they’re practically all ‘journeymen’ with lengthy dropping data. Again within the Nineteen Fifties, many UK payments additionally included international fighters, from throughout Europe and the Commonwealth, however the usual of import again then was far greater than is the case as we speak. A typical invoice at Earls Courtroom, the place Freddie Mills was the promoter, would possibly simply embody a Belgian, a Frenchman, a South African and a Ghanaian. Males like Roy Ankrah, Dave Sands, Duilio Loi and Yolande Pompey may very well be seen alongside the top-flight Londoners of that interval. The dressing rooms have been like a mini model of the United Nations.
One such man, who came visiting to the UK in 1955, was the heavyweight Kitione Lave, recognized to UK struggle followers as “The Tongan Terror”, and to New Zealanders and Australians, the place he had beforehand blazed a path throughout 1953 and 1954, as “The Tongan Torpedo”.
The Queen of Tonga arrived in Britain for the Queen’s Coronation in 1953 and he or she brought on a sensation in the course of the Royal Procession as a result of her exuberance, heat and extremely vibrant clothes. The British public warmed to her and there was one thing of a style for all issues Tongan. When Kitione arrived in 1955 he did so with the backing of his queen, and nice issues have been anticipated from him. His world got here crashing down in a short time when he was hammered by Johnny Williams, the ex-British and Commonwealth heavyweight champion, in Sparkbrook, Birmingham. Lave was floored 3 times and stopped within the first spherical. The competition was described by BN as “virtually farcical.” Absolutely there may very well be no approach again for him.
Kitione slowly rebuilt his repute with a crushing one-round victory over Manny Burgo in a low-key contest in West Hartlepool. He adopted this up with fast wins over Eddie Hearn (Battersea) and Nosher Powell, though sandwiched in between these two victories was a factors loss to a different high-quality heavyweight, Joe Bygraves.
The Tongan was then invited again to Sparkbrook for a 10-rounder in opposition to one other ex-British and Commonwealth heavyweight champion, Jack Gardner, and this time the roles have been reversed. In response to BN: “In a disastrous first spherical, Gardner was dropped for 2 counts of ‘5’ and ‘9’ from rights to the jaw. His left eye was gashed and he was punched from pillar to put up. At no time in the course of the contest did he appear to be the winner.” Sadly, the referee didn’t agree, for on the finish of the bout it was Gardner’s hand that was raised, a lot to the astonishment of the gang.
Two extra fast wins in opposition to European opposition led to Lave taking over one other ex-champion at heavyweight, Don Cockell, who was having his second contest since being mauled by Rocky Marciano the earlier yr. Cockell had been matched with Gardner for the vacant British heavyweight title and each males have been boxing on this invoice at Earls Courtroom in warm-up contests. Each have been to lose badly. Lave merely slaughtered Cockell, dropping him six occasions within the two rounds that the competition lasted. Gardner was equally handled by Bygraves, this contest additionally terminating within the second spherical. By no means earlier than had two males matched for the British heavyweight title been so humiliated, and so they each instantly retired, paving the way in which for Joe Erskine to select up the vacant crown.
As a reward, Lave and Bygraves have been matched for the vacant Commonwealth title however, at full distance, Lave was effectively behind. He soldiered on for a superb few extra years boxing in each Europe and the States, however he by no means fairly pushed his approach into the world high 10. He shall be remembered, like his queen, for the joy that he dropped at Britain in these drab post-war years.