Stoked up to fight

Bob 'Stoker' Reynolds.

Bob 'Stoker' Reynolds.

The Royal Garrison Church

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Andrew Fairley has sent me details of another of his boxers from the Portsmouth area which he has researched for a book to be published next April.

Modesty and an unassuming demeanour outside the ring often go hand in hand with a certain icy ruthlessness inside the ropes and Bob Reynolds was just such a man.

With a moniker like Stoker you wouldn’t need to be a detective to work out what he did for a living and, as a sailor in the Royal Navy, Reynolds boxed his entire career representing the white ensign. And a fine career it was.

Winning far more than he lost he was a slick fighter with great speed and footwork.

Reynolds had his greatest success as welter, becoming champion of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines in 1930, Inter-Port champion and also Hampshire champion in 1931 and three years later he challenged Birmingham’s Jack Hood for the British title, losing in nine.

In championship terms, Reynolds’s eliminator for the British title in 1932 against Fred Webster at the Connaught Drill Hall, Landport, was the most important contest to take place in Portsmouth until the days of Tony Oakey 70 years later.

Reynolds was a highly regarded fighter and although he didn’t have a genuine knockout punch, he hit hard enough to gain respect and was a fine ring technician.

He outboxed top Pompey lads like Billy Streets and Steve Goldring, and at middleweight scored a hard-fought draw with KO specialist Harry Vine before a rematch saw him succumb to the Havant man’s brutal power in nine.

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