4 Boxing Champs, a Drunk and packet of Persil
Four former British World Champion Boxers Alan Minter, Colin McMillan, Charlie Magri and Dave Boy Green visited the Dagenham Roundhouse last Friday to talk about their successful careers alongside some excellent entertainment.
The evening got off to a great start with comedian Colin Cole working the audience in preparation for singer Izzy Chase getting everyone in the mood with her set of upbeat covers. Compere Mark Peters then brought up the four boxers individually to speak on their past triumphs, before bringing them back later as a quartet to take questions from a mainly middle aged crowd who remember these guys boxing careers. Indeed, one gentleman in the audience a little worst for the extra pint in hand insisted he had fought Dave Boy Green in his youth, and by his nature to the helpless compere he was looking for a rematch. But it was all part of the fun and laughs on the night. Once when the boxing questions and answers became to macho and alpha male yours truly asked ‘What was the colour of your favourite boxing shorts’? ‘And when you got home did you wash them in Persil or Aerial automatic’? Surprisingly such questions were answered with the seriousness normally reserved for World title fight weigh ins.
Alan Minter admitted that when he started boxing as a 13-year-old he lost his first 7 fights. His mother wanted him to pack it in. He was carried out the ring so often, they tied handles to his shorts. But this was great experience for a boxer who went on to represent his country at the 1972 Olympics winning a bronze medal for Great Britain. The Munich Olympics were sadly best remembered for the Black September kidnapping and hostage taking of 11 Israeli athletes, resulting in their deaths. Alan reflected that the village was very upbeat and friendly before the attacks. Afterwards everyone just kept themselves to themselves and the atmosphere was just awful. His unexpected success at these games propelled him into a professional career beating Vito Antuofermo’s at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas for the undisputed World Middleweight Championship in March 1980. He won the title by a 15 round decision and, in a rematch, he retained the world title by a TKO in eight rounds. Minter’s run as world champion came to an end on 27 September of that year, when he was stopped on cuts in three rounds to Marvin Hagler at Wembley Arena in London. After the fight was stopped, Minter’s supporters caused a riot, throwing beer cans into the ring and both boxers had to be ushered away by the police. Alan said ‘The crowd thought Hagler had head butted me’. He also mentioned that in those days you had to defend your title within sixty days or you were strip of it. Not so today.
Dave Boy Green known as the “Fen Tiger” boxed with the best. Twice fighting for the WBC world welterweight title once against Carlos Palomino and the other against one of the greatest boxers of all time Sugar Ray Lennard. Dave the chirpiest boxer of the night smiling and very happy with his lot after retirement said that Ray Lennard had been to his house in England and he had been to his house in Los Angeles. ‘The only difference my house was around 5,00 square feet and his 20,000 square feet’. In 2012, Green was award the MBE for services to Boxing and Charity in the Cambridgeshire area. His success can be summed up by Sugar Ray Leonard, “Dave was a brave fighting man who never gave less than one hundred per cent whenever he put the gloves on. He is a warm human being who does tremendous work for charity, and I’m thrilled he has made such a success in business”.
Colin McMillan came across as the most considered, making the point politely that he was educated to A-level standard and was going on to train as an accountant before boxing got in the way. He won British Featherweight title in 1991, followed by the Commonwealth title in 1992 before beating Maurizio Stecca for the WBO Featherweight belt that same year. McMillan lost his WBO belt on his first defence, when he was unable to continue against Rubén Darío Palacios due to a dislocated shoulder, an injury that bothered him to the point of retirement and still suffers a little today with it.
Last up was 5ft 3 inches tall Charlie Magri who in 1983, fought Eleoncio Mercedes, of the Dominican Republic, for the WBC and The Ring flyweight titles. The fight was at Wembley Arena and Magri triumphed when the fight was stopped in the seventh on cuts. In September 1983, he defended his world titles against Frank Cedeno, of the Philippines. The fight again at Wembley Arena, and Magri lost his titles when the referee stopped the fight in the sixth, after Magri had been put down three times. Charlie stated ‘that he had been feeling ill all week before the fight and was just not right on the night’. He further felt that as much as he liked his manager / trainer Terry Lawless he was short changed by him he terms of his boxing fees and was popular with the crowds bringing in good numbers to see him box.
Matthew Willetts MA is the Director of Comicus who has over 35 years experience in television, film, theatre, and comedy club/cabaret entertainment, working as a performer, screenwriter, producer and agent. He lectured at Southampton Solent University in Comedy, Screenwriting, Television, Theatre & Radio. Matthew can sometimes be seen and heard on TV & Radio and often quoted in the national press and media publications. As well as speaking regularly at festivals and industry conferences, he has been a judge at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Montreux Television Festival.