|Real name||Brian Sydney Harper|
19 June 1934 |
West Hartlepool, County Durham, England, UK
|Wins by KO||26|
Brian London, (born Brian Sidney Harper, 19 June 1934, in West Hartlepool, County Durham) is a retired English heavyweight boxer. He was British and Commonwealth Heavyweight champion from 1958 to 1959, and had two world heavyweight title fights. He was one of a quartet of British boxers, with Henry Cooper, Joe Erskine and Dick Richardson, who dominated the British boxing scene throughout the 1950s and 1960s.
An orthodox, rugged, no-nonsense fighter who lacked finesse but showed lots of courage, he was 6 ft tall and fought at about 14 st 9 lbs. His nicknames in the ring were "The British Bulldog" and "The Blackpool Rock". He defeated a number of world-class and well-known fighters such as Zora Folley, Willie Pastrano, Pete Rademacher, Tom McNeeley, Roger Rischer, Joe Erskine, Amos Johnson, Billy Walker, Von Clay, Young Jack Johnson and Kitione Lave.
London was born in West Hartlepool, County Durham, in 1934, and moved to Blackpool when he was 16 years old, where he has lived ever since. His father, Jack London, beat Freddie Mills in 1944 to win the British heavyweight title. He also had a brother, Jack junior, who fought as a light-heavyweight. London fought as an amateur before turning professional in 1955. He made a good start to his career, winning his first twelve bouts, until he came up against Henry Cooper in May 1956. Cooper stopped him with a technical knockout in the first round. Following this defeat, London continued his winning run, apart from two ten-round point defeats, against Heinz Neuhaus in Dortmund, in 1957 and against the talented American, Willie Pastrano in February 1958.
British heavyweight title
In June 1958, he fought Joe Erskine, the Welsh boxer, for the British and Commonwealth heavyweight titles. The fight was at the White City Stadium, London, and London took the titles with an eighth-round knockout. He followed this in September with a revenge win against Willie Pastrano, by a technical knockout in the fifth round. On 12 January 1959, London lost his titles in a fight against Henry Cooper, losing for the second time to the Londoner by a points decision after fifteen rounds.
World title fight
In May 1959 he was given the chance of a world title fight against current champion, Floyd Patterson, but he lost the bout in Indianapolis by a knockout in the eleventh. He also lost to the Cuban Nino Valdez later that year, by a technical knockout in the seventh. However, in January 1960, London bounced back when he beat the American Pete Rademacher by a knockout in the seventh. Rademacher had made history by being the only man to fight for the world heavyweight championship on his professional debut, losing to Floyd Patterson.
Further domestic career
In August 1960, London challenged Dick Richardson for his European heavyweight title, but lost the bout in Porthcawl, Wales on a technical knockout in the eighth. This result provoked a brawl, when London's father and brother invaded the ring to protest that Richardson had used his head to open a cut on his opponent. When Richardson's trainer shouted a few remarks at London, London replied with an impressive combination of blows, decking him, and chaos broke out. As a result of the incident, London was fined by the British Boxing Board of Control.
He fought Henry Cooper for the third time in February 1964, when he challenged for his British and Commonwealth titles, as well as the vacant European title. The fight took place in Manchester, and Cooper won on points after fifteen rounds.
His next fight of note was in March 1965, against the young "Golden Boy" of British boxing, Billy Walker. London won on points after ten rounds.
Second world title fight
In August 1966, London fought for the world heavyweight title for the second time, when Muhammad Ali came to defend his title at Earl's Court Exhibition Hall. Ali put in a masterful performance hitting London at will - as London put it in an interview with BBC TV "he was just getting through all the time" - Brian was KOd in the 3rd round after Ali landed 11 punches in 3 seconds.
Latter stages of his career
In March 1967, London next fought American, Jerry Quarry, in Los Angeles, losing the fight by a unanimous decision after ten rounds. In November 1967, London had, what was to be the last win in his career when he fought the talented American, Zora Folley. Foley had lost a world title fight against Muhammad Ali, earlier that year, and London beat him on points over ten rounds.
London had continued to fight when he was past his best, and in June 1968, he lost, by a technical knockout to Jack Bodell. In September 1969 he travelled to Oakland, California to fight Jerry Quarry for the second time, this time being knocked out in the second round. The bout was unusual in that the bell was inadvertently rung as London was getting up after being knocked down in the second. The fighters returned to their corners and the referee, realising that the round had not finished, made them resume. London was then knocked down again and was counted out before the end of the round.
London's last fight was against the up-and-coming young boxer Joe Bugner, who would eventually take the British, Commonwealth and European titles from Henry Cooper. The bout was in May 1970, at Wembley, and Bugner won by a technical knockout in the fifth, signalling an end to London's career.
Retirement and personal life
After retiring from boxing, London became a businessman in his hometown of Blackpool, owning several nightclubs, and is still a fitness fanatic running 12 miles a day. Teetotal all of his life, in 2006 it was revealed that he was still only a few pounds over his fighting weight. He is married with three children.
In January 1971 English footballer Bobby Moore was embroiled in what became a national media story when he and three other West Ham United players, Jimmy Greaves, Clyde Best and Brian Dear, spent the evening at London's 007 nightclub in Blackpool, the night before an important FA Cup match against Blackpool which they went on to lose 4-0, with then West Ham manager Ron Greenwood and the national media severely criticising the players. Moore later said of the incident, "I'd met Brian London on many occasions and thought it would be nice to look him up. I suppose we all realised at the time that we were leaving ourselves vulnerable".
London has always said that fighting Muhammad Ali was the greatest honour of his life. Like so many other boxers, London continued fighting long after his prime. He was 22 wins to 3 losses early in his career but lost 17 of his last 33 fights. In judging London's career it should be remembered that he fought some of the best fighters in the world, including four who at some stage were world champions – Ali, Patterson, Johansson and Pastrano.
My dad was Jack London and I was expected to fight as well. I was never a great fighter. I was just really, really fit.—Brian London
In 2004, the British Boxing website listed London at number eight in a list of the top ten post World War II British Heavyweight boxers. He is a member of Blackpool Sportsman's Aid Society (BSAS) which raises funds for local charities and sporting needs in Blackpool.
Professional boxing record
|British Heavyweight Champion
Commonwealth Heavyweight Champion
June 3, 1958 – January 12, 1959
- Mee, Bob (2005-12-08). "Fight night in great tradition". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2008-03-12.[dead link]
- "Boxer Brian's book is set to be a big hitter". Blackpool Gazette. 2006-03-27. Retrieved 2008-03-12.
- Amato, Jim (2006-03-26). "Brian London: He Did England Proud". East Side Boxing. Retrieved 2008-03-12.
- "Happened on this day - 12 January". BBC Sport. 2002-01-13. Retrieved 2008-03-12.
- "Blackpool 4, West Ham 0, FA Cup third round, 2 January 1971: Boozy Bobby's night of shame". Blackpool Gazette. 2006-09-20. Retrieved 2008-03-12.
- "The Truth About Blackpool". Bobby Moore online. Retrieved 2008-03-12.[dead link]
- "BBN's Top Ten post-war Heavyweights". BritishBoxing.net. 2004-07-28. Retrieved 2008-03-12.
- Riddle, John (2008). Hartlepool People: A Tribute to the Town's Rich, Famous and Infamous, Cormorant Publishing Hartlepool, ISBN 978-0-9558593-0-4
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