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Thursday, January 17, 2013
I enjoyed Dick Brownson’s novel, A Distant Friendly Party, about a pro boxing gym in the 1950s, reviewed recently in the Gazette.
A great read that brought back memories for me as I was involved in boxing in those days and knew Dick quite well.
There has always been a strong affinity between boxing and villainy, and some people find both “trades” glamorous.
Ronnie and Reggie Kray were both ex-boxers and always invited us to the local café after training for a free meal when they visited the gym.
We had lots of invitations to parties and weddings, and it was at a reception that the story of Ronnie and his comment about the “lovely tulip buttonholes” came out; no one would tell him they were carnations!
Afterwards Dick owned nightclubs and was always seen with Terry Downes, the former middleweight champion.
We met again years later, when he was landlord of the Royal Exchange pub in Barnstaple, and I had many a yarn about the old times with him and Reg Hicks, another ex-boxer. Dick had remained close to boxing and still is today.
The fight game and the underworld have always gone hand in hand ... or should I say glove in glove!