With top pros Tyson Fury, Isaac Lowe and Tomi Tatham all living in the Morecambe Bay area, we are in something of a golden age for local boxing.
But what of the fighters of yesteryear who paved the way for these modern-day warriors?
A new book lifts the lid on the professional boxers from Morecambe and Lancaster from days gone by.
‘Boxers From The Bay’ is written by Larry Braysher, whose previous book ‘Boxing by the Sea’ was about the history of boxing at Morecambe Winter Gardens.
His latest work focusses more on the personalities who lived and fought out of the bay area from the first professional boxing show in Lancaster in 1919 to present day.
Larry’s passion for boxing shines through and his admiration for 1980s local boxing hero ‘The Lancaster Lion’ Alan Lamb particularly jumps off the page.
Lamb’s biggest fight was a brave losing effort to Clinton McKenzie in 1983.
McKenzie, who boxed Sugar Ray Leonard at the 1976 Olympics, edged the popular Lancaster man at Liverpool Stadium in a contest for the British Light Welterweight crown. Larry tells the story of Alan’s rise to the top and how close he came to becoming our district’s only ever British professional champion. The tale of Frank Harrington’s career also makes fascinating reading. Hard punching Frank was a pro in the 1980s and early ‘90s with a vaunted left hook. Today he is best known as a trainer and amateur boxing promoter in Morecambe, who recently returned to the ring locally for exhibition bouts with fight legends Nigel Benn and Steve Collins.
The book also recalls the thrilling night when the popular and all-action Marcus Duncan became Central Area Bantamweight Champion at The Carleton in 1995.
Other interesting local boxers covered in the book include Alvin Finch, now a no-nonsense referee on the amateur circuit, Lee Woodruff, now a tattoo artist in Morecambe, Frankie Taylor, who boxed for Great Britain in the 1960 Olympics and later became a journalist with the Lancaster Guardian, and his fellow ‘Lancaster Lads Club’ graduate and British amateur team member Bobby Day, who sparred with the great Sugar Ray Robinson.
Larry also delves right back into the mists of time to uncover stories of a disappointing exhibition bout at the Winter Gardens involving British Champion Jack Peterson in 1933, how Kid Dempsey from Lancaster boxed a kangaroo, and the tragedy of Micky Johnson, an African boxer whose real name was Mamadou Nyang, who died of a subdural haemorrhage after a fight at the Winter Gardens in 1952. Larry also reveals many other facts boxing aficionados may not know, such as how Alan Lamb was all set to fight the great former World Lightweight Champion Ken Buchanan in 1981 until the Scot withdrew through injury, and how Lancaster fighter Billy Dodd won a medal for bravery in the Second World War. It’s a great book, fast moving, hard hitting and an ideal stocking filler for fight fans, with a foreword written by former Visitor editor Glen Cooper.
Copies available from the author on 015395 35459 priced £12 (plus £2.50 postage and packing) or at Morecambe and Lancaster Visitor Information Centres.