Lonsdale Belt

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Matt Wells the 1911 lightweight champion wearing the Lonsdale Belt

The Lonsdale Belt was a boxing prize introduced by Hugh Lowther, 5th Earl of Lonsdale, to be awarded to British boxing champions. It is still awarded to British champions today.

National Sporting Club[edit]

Lord Lonsdale organised boxing matches and was the first president of the National Sporting Club. In 1909, he introduced the Lonsdale Belt as a new trophy for the British champion at each weight division. The belts were crafted from porcelain and twenty-two carat gold, supported by red, white and blue fabric backing,[1] and were only to be held by a fighter as long as he was British champion. However, a British champion was allowed to keep his Lonsdale Belt if he defended his title successfully twice. Later belts were made from nine carat gold rather than the original twenty-two carat. A total of 22 Lonsdale belts were issued by the National Sporting Club, and of these 20 were won outright.

The holders of the first Lonsdale belts were:-

  • Flyweight — Sid Smith, 1911
  • Bantamweight — Digger Stanley, 1910 (retained). Jim Higgins (retained), Johnny Brown (1923-1925) won the same Lonsdale belt outright. The NSC bought it back from Digger Stanley's widow after his death. Bugler Lake got one notch on it before losing to Johnny Brown in 1923. Brown went on to win it outright and retain it. His son, Edward Brown, donated this original belt to the Museum of London in 2010. It can be seen at their Docklands museum.
  • Featherweight — Jim Driscoll, 1910 (retained)
  • Lightweight — Freddie Welsh, 1909 (retained)
  • Welterweight — Young Joseph, 1910
  • Middleweight — Tom Thomas, 1909
  • Light-heavyweight — Dick Smith, 1914 (retained)
  • Heavyweight — Bombardier Billy Wells, 1911 (retained)

The three above belts that were not retained by the holders were eventually held and retained by Jimmy Wilde (flyweight), Johnny Basham (welterweight) and Pat O'Keefe (middleweight).

British Boxing Board of Control[edit]

The National Sporting Club became virtually defunct in the early 1930s and lost control of the sport to the British Boxing Board of Control. The latter body began issuing Lonsdale belts from 1936 onwards.

The first holders of the B.B.B.C. belts were:-

  • Flyweight — Benny Lynch, 1936
  • Bantamweight — Johnny King, 1937
  • Featherweight — Johnny McGrory, 1936
  • Lightweight — Jimmy Walsh, 1936
  • Welterweight — Jake Kilrain, 1938
  • Middleweight — Jock McAvoy, 1937
  • Light-heavyweight — Jock McAvoy, 1937
  • Heavyweight — Tommy Farr, 1937

Henry Cooper (heavyweight) is the only man ever to win three Lonsdale belts outright. Besides Henry Cooper the following boxers have won two Lonsdale belts outright:-

In 1987 the B.B.B.C. decided no longer to award any fighter more than one belt in the same weight division. This still allows a fighter to win belts outright at two or more different weights.

The Lonsdale Belt won by Bombardier Billy Wells in 1911 is now kept at the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich, South East London, and is not on display to the general public.

In November 2000 the belt awarded to Randy Turpin in 1956 was auctioned for £23,000, while, in September 2011, that won by the welterweight Jack Hood in 1926, fetched £36,000. Hood, who died in 1992, had displayed the latter above the bar at the Bell public house in Tanworth-in-Arden of which he was the licensee.[2]

List of outright winners (partial)[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Harding, John (1994). Lonsdale's Belt: The Story of Boxing's Greatest Prize. London: Robson Books. ISBN 0-86051-846-9. 

Sources[edit]

  • Maurice Golesworthy, Encyclopaedia of Boxing (Eighth Edition) (1988), Robert Hale Limited, ISBN 0-7090-3323-0

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Antiques Trade Gazette, 1 October 2011, page 22
  2. ^ Antiques Trade Gazette, 1 October 2011, loc.cit.
  3. ^ "Twenty-round Fight. Matt Wells Lightweight Champion Of Great Britain". Montreal Gazette. February 28, 1911. Retrieved 2010-11-07. "Matt Wells won a twenty round fight tonight from Fred Welsh for the lightweight championship of great Britain and the Lonsdale belt The ..."