I WAS delighted to meet Wayne Alexander – former British and European super-welterweight champion – at London EBA’s December meeting. Wayne boxed professionally from 1995 to 2006, and I covered many of his bouts for the Croydon Advertiser. Wayne told me he’d joined LEBA and would be attending meetings regularly. I asked him if he’d consider joining Croydon EBA. “I’d like to, and maybe I will – I’m a Croydon man, through and through,” he said. “But I live in Ruislip now! I thought I’d make a fresh start, and I’ve got a good job in security – close protection.”

Wayne won 24 of 27 outings, 18 inside the distance. He was a terrific one-shot finisher – I’ll never forget the single punch that flattened Takaloo at York Hall in September 2004. He’d previously had a shot at the useful (and hard-hitting) Namibian, Harry Simon, in a WBO title bid. Wayne took the bout at less than 24 hours’ notice and shook the champion early on before (understandably) succumbing in round five. It was Wayne’s first defeat. He outscored Thomas McDonagh over 12 in Manchester in March 2006 – chief support to Joe Calzaghe’s brilliant win over Jeff Lacy to unite the IBF and WBO super-middleweight belts. After losing to Frenchman Serge Vigne nine months later, Alexander never boxed again. He didn’t actually announce his retirement, but some months after the Vigne loss he told me: “I’m up at 12 stone and I just don’t have the motivation to get the weight off.” A puncher’s always popular, and Wayne provided some great memories.

As usual, LEBA’s Christmas party followed the meeting, with an excellent buffet and entertainment provided by Dean Ferris – who invited members and guests to step up to the mic too. And several did, including Joe Lazar, Dany Wells, Bob Cheeseman, Terry Bay, Pat Thompson, Russell Goodwin, Billy Aird, ex-IBF super-lightweight champion Terry Marsh and Mark Taha (who gave a full-blooded rendition of The Oldest Swinger in Town). Ian John-Lewis was there, signing copies of his autobiography, I am the Referee, and I enjoyed the chance to chat with him about his pro career. Ian had 20 bouts between 1987 and 1992, winning 13 and losing seven – five through cut eyes, including his last three outings. I remember he had a war with Trevor Smith at Latchmere Leisure Centre, Wandsworth, in 1989 – being halted in eight rounds after both had been on the floor. Now, of course, Ian’s a Star referee, and it was also interesting to chat about today’s scene, and how fights are scored.

At Christmas it’s important not to forget the less fortunate, and member Peter Kent was doing the rounds, making his annual collection for St. Joseph’s Hospice.

Manchester EBA celebrated their Christmas party on November 24 at the Lightdown Social Club, Moston – and the MEBA newsletter described it as “fantastic”. There was a good turn-out, not only from Manchester but also Leeds, Merseyside and Wirral Associations – and that’s great to hear. I keep stressing the importance of EBAs supporting one another, and here’s yet further proof of it. Among those present were former WBA lightweight champion Anthony Crolla with his amateur trainer, Jimmy Lewis, NBF President Paul Abraham, NBF Chairman Terry Carson and ex-British featherweight champion (and current Leeds President) Allan Richardson. There was singing and dancing, and a hot and cold buffet – everyone thoroughly enjoyed it.

The newsletter also reports that former pro middleweight Jimmy Swords recently visited his old hometown (he now lives in Portugal). Sadly, Jimmy has been in poor health for a while, so he was glad to meet up with many of his old friends. Another member, Peter Fillingham, recently fell and broke his pelvis – but he’s making good progress, and it’s hoped he’ll be back at the monthly meetings soon. Keep punching, Peter.