A new book just published, Pompey’s Boxing Past by Andrew Fairley, is a complete history of boxing in Portsmouth.
I like the introduction: ’Unsurprisingly for a city that has for centuries sent men to war, Portsmouth has produced some excellent fighting men and continues to do so to this day.’
Andrew is not just talking about military men but civilian boxers too.
Not only does he name a score of boxers ranging from Harry Andrews, who fought from 1910-1922; Harry Vine, the Havant butcher (1926 to 1945); Wayne Evans (1974-1980) and Tony Oakey (1998 to 2010), but the list of venues paints a vivid picture of Portsmouth’s past too. The Wessex Drill Hall, St Paul’s Road; Connaught Drill Hall, Stanhope Road; The Ring, Charlotte Street, and Fratton Park to name but a few. Some of the men he describes must have been so hard but after their fights they returned to being gentle and gentlemen for the most part.
Many of the fights Andrew describes would never be allowed in today’s strictly-controlledworld of boxing. The 224-page paperback includes two dozen photographs and excellent biographies of all the boxers. The way Andrew describes the fights you would think he was there as he writes in such a descriptive fashion.
If you want a different history of Portsmouth then this excellent book is for you. Available from Waterstones, Commercial Road, and other retailers at £12.99.