I’M very sorry to report that Croydon EBA Chairman Barry Penny collapsed after the recent monthly meeting (Sunday July 28). Several members and guests were still there, enjoying a drink and a chat, and they rallied round magnificently, calling an ambulance and Barry’s partner, Irene, and looking after him until the ambulance arrived. Barry stayed in hospital until last Friday (August 2), but happily is now home. “They don’t know what caused me to pass out,” he told me when I telephoned. “But when I fell I hurt my ribs and tore a calf muscle. The ribs are OK now, but it’s still really painful to put weight on that leg, or try to walk.” I’m sure everyone will join me in wishing Barry a full and speedy recovery. He does a tremendous amount for Croydon, and is a great supporter of the EBA movement generally. I had left before this happened. One of the last things Barry said to me was what a great meeting it had been, with visitors from Hastings and Brighton, and the raffle raising over £100.

Hastings Chairman Dave Harris said it was great to see so many old friends, including Lee McKenzie, Mick Hussey and former Commonwealth lightweight champion Pat Doherty. Pat boxed several of Dave’s fighters when Dave was managing – he won two out of three against Paul Huggins, drew with and then outpointed Mark West and beat Alan Tombs on an eye injury. (Incidentally, it was Mick Hussey’s first time at a meeting for some months, as he’d not been well – everyone was glad to see him back.) Dave gave an update on the Ringside Rest and Care home, and Brighton member Harry Scott did a brisk trade afterwards in car stickers, keyrings and other memorabilia. He said that EBAs generally had been great in supporting the venture. Dave also answered questions about the British Ex-Boxers’ Hall of Fame and stressed, again, that EBAs were free to nominate anyone they chose for the various awards. With justifiable pride he recalled that when the idea of the Hall of Fame was first mooted, many people predicted it would never take off – in fact, it has been a sell-out every year.

I was also sorry to learn of the death of Essex EBA member Vic Bowyer, aged 85. Born in Stepney, Vic boxed professionally between 1955 and 1958, starting as a full welter but dropping down as low as super-feather. He won 12 and drew four of 28 outings. “He attended nearly every meeting of the Essex Ex-Boxers’ Association in Southend, along with my brother and me,” Vic’s son, Tony, told me. “When he was fighting he lived in Elm Park and was managed by Harry Freeman and trained at the Merry Fiddlers pub in Dagenham. He was once due to fight on the same bill as Randolph Turpin. He remembered going to the weigh-in but an opponent could not be found. He was sent to see the promoter, Jack Solomons, who opened a massive leather case stuffed with notes and gave him £5 for his trouble.” My condolences to Tony and all Vic’s family.

The latest issue of Punch Lines, Essex EBA’s monthly newsletter, has plenty to read as usual, with a good balance between past and present. The front cover has a photo of Essex members wearing Ringside Rest and Care T-shirts, and the lead story emphasises Essex’s support for the project. There’s also an article on the current heavyweight situation in Britain, and scathing comments on some recent shows. There’s a fascinating article on Jimmy Anderson, whom I remember as an exciting, all-action featherweight and super-feather in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Anderson was Britain’s first-ever champion at 130lbs (then known as junior-lightweight) and he went the distance with two reigning world champions – flooring Howard Winstone and breaking Johnny Famechon’s jaw.


The latest supporters of the cause include a renowned artist and a former British champion

A VERY talented and gifted young man, Lester Magoogan of Hastings, has kindly donated a piece of his artwork to be auctioned off in aid of Ringside Rest and Care. Lester, who has Down’s syndrome, put his first show on in 1999 and went on to exhibit in the Tate Modern, The Strand Gallery and The Lowry, and has since exhibited in Siberia, Hong Kong and New York. We all thank you for your extremely kind donation.

Former British champion Jimmy Batten is hosting a charity event for RR&C on Friday August 9 at the Rowing Club, Ferry Street, Isle of Dogs – 7.30pm to 11.30pm. Tickets are £10, which includes a buffet, live entertainment, raffle and auction. If you’re interested, please contact Jimmy on 0795 6570 533. Many thanks for your support, Jimmy.