Boxing ref is a knockout

Fred Potter
Fred Potter

BOXING figure Fred Potter has told of his pride at being nominated for a Hartlepool Mail sports award.

The 83-year-old from the town has given more than 50 years to the sport he loves, as a referee and for service on the British Boxing Board of Control.

He has refereed some of the biggest names in the sport including Lennox Lewis, Jim Watt and John Conteh.

Legends from the North-East such as Billy Hardy and Hartlepool’s own Feeney brothers also had Fred as a figure in the middle.

But now, it’s Fred taking centre stage after being nominated for this year’s awards. His name was put forward by town man Keith Fisher who said: “Without the dedicated officials, many of our sports would be impossible.”

He added: “He is a Hartlepool man born and bred and you simply cannot get further in the boxing game than did Freddie.

“I can’t remember any formal recognition of the man’s achievements and perhaps it is the time and place for it now?”

Fred said: “I am honoured, especially when the nomination has come from someone like Keith Fisher.”

Fred was born in a Hartlepool pub called the Malt and Hops in Hartlepool, run by his dad John William Potter who was the licensee. John retired to a house in Stockton Road and it became Fred’s home as well.

Fred served his time at the Central Works before working as a maintenance turner for 30 years at Head Wrightson in Hartlepool.

But sport was his love. His link with boxing started when he went to watch two of the North-East early stars, Maurice Cullen and George Bowes.

“I used to watch them spar at Horden pit baths,” said Fred. “I ended up getting in the middle and the manager of Bowes said to me ‘why don’t you take it up’.”

He did and Fred refereed boxing matches from his late 20s until he retired from the ring as a 60-year-old.

He became a director of the British Board of Boxing Control and recently won a trophy for 50 years service to the sport.

Now he’s hoping to add another crown by winning our sports award.

This year’s sports awards is searching for the very best in fields from team of the year to the lifetime achievement award. The full list is below.

There’s plenty of time to put forward your favourites before we announce the deadline for entries.

Then it’s over to the judges to draw up a shortlist before the glittering finale in early October.

There’s a long way to do before we get to that stage - and that means there’s plenty of time for you to come forward with your favourities.

Fill in the application form in today’s paper or go HERE