The present Huthwaite Boxing Club would appear holding a far longer history before claiming amatuer status. Common belief was always retold the Peacock Hotel long provided its first clubhouse. Senior residents were however once able to recall an earlier boxing club being run above The Workpeoples Inn, although it couldn't be determined if this was related to the later named amateur club. My research uncovered that earlier titled Huthwaite Weightlifting and Boxing Club, and with additional reference from memory given very authoritatively by Mr Colin Barber October 2006, a fuller history behind Huthwaite Boxing is finally revealed.
An upper room of The Workpeoples Inn was first allocated to various sports training of local men. Equipped with what could be considered the first Huthwaite gymnasium, this group formed a fully titled Huthwaite Weightlifting and Boxing Club, to include wrestlers and body building fitness. Their often shortened title reflects promotional focus at training known professional boxers. Earliest dated photographs first reveal active members of the Huthwaite Boxing Club outside their Workpeoples Inn. Their named officials in 1922 are Steve Fox, Jimmy Rock and John William Richards.
Shown in both these earliest dated photos is a young Ernie Barnes. Between 1923-1926 he professionally fought six contests. Shown in later company of Reg Moorhouse, these were two names that grew widely associated behind this clubs emerging success.
The fact Ernie did become club manager, alongside Reg. as trainer, is confirmed by 1932 press reports. Their clubs contended wins that August only intimates results from making undated progressions, claimed across several branches of physical culture. When all three Huthwaite club entrants gained favourable ten round point results at that Sheffield boxing tournament, mentioned are George Frost (Huthwaite heavy weight), Walter Weaver (Tibshelf bantam weight) and Fred Cadman Jones (Stanton Hill).
Just a few weeks later, boxing club members aroused local interest and further publicity by putting up several exhibition bouts at a Huthwaite Carnival. Wrestling and muscle displays also given by Mr A. England and Reg. Moorhouse allowed the club trainer to demonstrate his fitness, plus wider variety of physical activities still being catered for under the fuller descriptively titled Huthwaite Weightlifting and Boxing Club.
Only a few recognisable names listed below, extracted from the linked title having professional status plus Huthwaite interests.
|Professional Huthwaite Club Boxers|
|Ring Name||Professional Contests|
|Ernie Barnes||1923 - 1926 = 6|
|George Laitt||1933 - 1935 = 5|
|George Briggs||1923 - 1928 = 3|
|Joe Bingham||1928 - 1931 = 17|
|Young Hipkins||1929 - 1930 = 4|
|Billy Keeling||1929 - 1933 = 3|
|Dick Jones||1929 - 1934 = 8|
|Young Hallam||1932 - 1939 = 5|
|Lawrence Keeling||1949 - 1949 = 2|
|Colin Barber||1953 - 1956 = 34|
|John Smith||1964 - 1970 = 16|
|Jack Cotes||1969 - 1971 = 18|
Inspecting a 2003 Workies pub refurbishment tempted some back from a dwindling generation. A few noted more spacious quietness, having evoked their past recollections when they often heard a heavy thud of dropped training weights onto the club floor above. Otherwise, bar room patrons could well be unaware of the sober standards of training privately going on upstairs, from other names found associated with boxing like :- Alf Frost, Ernie Hallam, George Laitt, Charlie Yates, Tommy Cope (Mansfield) & Billy Strange (Stanton Hill).
Any doubts concerning the clubs renaming and moves were answered by Colin Barber. He'd pro boxed from Sutton before joining this relatively well equipped gym. Training above the Workies it was opened every night by Ernest Barnes. Professional experience led Colin to help out with training others, before taking official posts of secretary, then treasurer. And he noted space becoming limited when it soon attracted around 30 weekly regulars
There would be some greater reason beyond gaining a snappier ABC title, behind officially renaming the Huthwaite Weightlifting and Boxing Club. Active members were already commonly identified from Huthwaite Boxing Club, so inserting amateur status must have opened new doors. One appeared very shortly after. Mr Barber recalls landlord Bill Wright then offered them free private use of a larger room at his neighbouring Peacock Hotel. Year given was 1960 when the newly named Huthwaite Amateur Boxing Club moved into a relatively spacious old stone outbuilding aside the public house, fully utilising the upper level.
Many of us continued using this pubs outdoor toilet block when it still managed to stand two storeys high. It lost the upper level some years before digital cameras became the norm. My earliest one at least managing to capture a poor but rare glimpse before final 2000 demolition. The room above claimed a well equipped gym. And they even squeezed in a small boxing ring.
By staging boxing tournaments, often at Sutton Baths, they soon raised money to provide all club house amenities. Claiming good facilities run by two ex pro trainers, Barnes and Barber attracted boxers from even further afield, including several international fighters. Naming those in the photo, Mr Barber mentions Wally Swift and Percy Lewis, noting Bill Wright never charged them a penny throughout their stay of almost six years while becoming nicknamed the "Fighting Peacocks".
Answering a press ad for someone taking over an existing building called the Woodlands, The clubs present headquarters were acquired 1965.
That "Woodlands" addressing was certainly taken from previous siting atop Strawberry Bank. It was erected by Urban Councillors in precaution to serving as a Smallpox isolation hospital. That never really got used, so in 1934 they relocated the building and adapted it for Welfare Park storage facilities until that was no longer required.
When the club adopted this spacious room it demanded a new zinc roof and full repaint, but its superior size easily accommodated all training equipment alongside creature comforts, plus a full sized ring. Jack Dallison is credited with setting the posts in concrete, and they remain unmoved to this very day. The Boxing Club is still located off Sutton Road, once secluded behind a Huthwaite Public Library and backing up to a Welfare Park Bowling Green. Attempts to clear the corner atop Columbia Street began exposing the badly weathered condition of the club house in year 2000, showing no improvement from brief or passing visits 25 years before.
New machine equipped gyms opened elsewhere catering for masses who sought a fitness regime. Presenting this clearly neglected exterior afforded little motivation for enticing or even keeping such membership. Despite appearance however, and largely based upon past repute, training here always continued the disciplined art of boxing. By stabling numerous local youngsters, many have shared in this clubs undeniable successes in amateur tournaments. And they generally offered thanks to the motivating assistance given by one man.
Mick Riley took up interest in the sport around year 1950. The ex miner from Kirkby-in-Ashfield won his own collection of trophies when adding six area titles to five divisional titles in a National Coal Boxing Club. His involvement and undying passion went on to span 60 years, after next committing half a century to running the Huthwaite ABC as its well respected trainer, so frequently and readily acknowledged assisting others.
Mr. Riley had suffered serious health problems through latter years. Though determined not to give up what he'd devotedly lived for, some may argue this single handedness struggled to keep up a once proud club.
Reported membership fell into the 1990's. Outwardly it clearly showed signs of long neglect and lack of investment. Often noting locked doors, eventually it seemed vacated altogether. Until 2007, when a fresh coat of paint at least gave good impression someone still kept a future vested interest.
According to Chad May 2008, Mick's rekindled efforts finally gained reward from a dozen or more registered boxers. Huthwaite pro boxing promoter Scott Calow shared pleasure seeing the clubs welcome resurgence. With a number of potential and very talented amateurs, these did eventually require several fully qualified assistant coaches. Mr. Calow is himself a pro manager and trainer, but had kept an interest among the Huthwaite Amateur boxers. In 2010 since veteran Mick Riley died, he took over running this Huthwaite club - Contacts
Written 19 Aug 12 Revised 10 May 15 © by Gary Elliott