Shadow boxing by Jack London at the Engineers Club
HOW I enjoyed reading L Rose’s letter (Memory Lane, February 19). It was very interesting.
When Jack London became heavyweight champion in 1946, beating the battling Freddie Mills, he did a bit of shadow boxing one Monday night at the Engineers Club.
Then came an announcement.
Would anyone fancy going a round with the champion? If standing after the round he would get £1.
There was silence all round until one man accepted the challenge and got into the ring.
My eyes popped out of my head. It was ‘me uncle Arthur’ up in the ring.
Arthur Reed was his name and he lived in Easington Road.
I was working in the shipyard at the time and I was on £3.20 a week wages, so £1 for three minutes was a good reward.
He survived the round and got his £1. He said Jack’s body punches hurt, really hurt.
Then he took up boxing part-time, boxing under the name of Al Reed.
He won a couple and lost a couple, and his last fight was at Ryhope.
One of Lee Savold’s sparing partners was on the bill and his opponent cried off at the last minute, so the promoter looked for a replacement and Al Reed volunteered to take his place.
The contest went on and poor Arthur got a right hammering.
His opponent was too good for him that night.
When he got home his wife, Ida, saw the state of him all battered and bruised, and told him straight: “Pack it in or I will divorce you.”
So his boxing days were over.
In 1960 he emigrated to Perth in Australia.
One day in a cafe he said something to the burly man behind the counter.
The man came and affronted Arthur, pushed a wooden spoon into Arthur’s chest and said: “And what are you going to do?”
A right cross and the man was on the floor.
Arthur helped him up then walked out.
Sadly he passed away about 10 years ago.
In L Rose’s letter he said Don Mongard was Lee Savold’s sparring partner.
I don’t think he was.
Don Mogard came over to fight Jack London and London won in five rounds.
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Sunday 19 May 2013
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