ONE of the great characters of British boxing, Jim Evans – trainer, manager, promoter and top class amateur boxer – is not well at the moment.
Eighty-five years old, dignified and hugely respected, Jim’s is a life lived in boxing.
Mainly recognised in recent years as a great trainer and manager, Jim was also a top class amateur boxer. He had 246 fights and only lost about 30 times. Most of these were for the Army and he later boxed for St Pancras. Furthermore, Jim only lost three out of 55 as a junior, in what was a very tough era.
For those who don’t know Jim, let me tell you a bit more about him. He is a tough, no nonsense, old school gentleman of the game, but it’s always an absolute delight to be in his company. His knowledge of boxing is encyclopedic, and his memory never anything less than amazing. He can tell you who he boxed and what weight he was in the Boys Club Championships 70 years ago!
His wonderful boxing tales are legendary: There was the time he boxed for the Army in Uganda against a team whose heavyweight was Idi Amin; the time he boxed with his front teeth knocked out (and still won); the time Herbie Hide and Petr Horacek went ballistic at each other in sparring, the time Gerald McClellan gave him the evil eye. There are many, many more fantastic boxing stories that Jim loves to tell.
Jim’s a Londoner, but eventually settled in Maidenhead, Berkshire with his beloved wife Georgina, where in 1980 he founded Maidenhead ABC. His sons Justin and Graham both boxed there at a very good level.
In 1984, Jim entered professional boxing and with the loyal support of Georgina, built his own gym in the garden of his home. A wonderful old fashioned, proper boxing gym. It was an education just watching the hundreds of top boxers who passed through those doors, and Jim always made visitors welcome, with a laugh and a joke and a cup of tea.
Jim has had many fine successes in the pros. There was Keith Marner beating Jon Thaxton to win the Southern Area title on Jim’s own show in Bracknell. Geoff McCreesh ripping away Kevin Lueshing’s British title on an amazing Wembley night. Michael Sprott famously flattening Audley Harrison in three rounds. There were many more special nights, especially with the superb McCreesh and Sprott.
“Geoff McCreesh really was an unbelievable talent, he had great natural ability and we never had a bad day together,” Jim states with pride.
Keith Marner was Jim’s first professional champion. “I feel so honoured to have become his first champion,” Marner said. “Jim said ‘we ain’t got a lot of time Keith’, because of my age, so we had to move quickly. Jim kept his word and got me my southern area title shot after only six bouts. He believed in me and I will always thank him for that. He did so much for me and Geoff in particular.”
Former British and Commonweath heavyweight champion Michael Sprott is another success story. “There is a lot I can say about this man,” Sprott said. “Jim Evans – a great trainer, manager and a father figure and friend to me. Jim is an encyclopaedia of boxing. He knows so much and is always happy to pass on that knowledge to so many. He’s always helped boxers out on all levels. I have had so many amazing times at Jim’s gym.”
Jim loves boxing and his boxers. Now that he’s no longer involved in the game, he’s left a massive hole that won’t be easily filled. His knowledge, wit and wisdom will be irreplaceable.
In retirement, Jim is loved and surrounded by his family; brother Dave, his sons Justin and Graham, Grandkids Oskar, Freja, Thomas and Ella.
It’s hard to understate how much of a respected figure Jim Evans is, one known for his integrity and unflinching honesty. Travelling up and down the country and all over the world. A fine ambassador for our sport with his easy charm and enthusiasm for boxing shining bright wherever he goes.
Mention Jim and a smile will light up the face of anyone who ever had the joy of his company. A boxing man through and through.
We’re thinking of you, Jim.