Bombardier Billy Wells

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Bombardier Billy Wells
Bombadier Billy Wells LOC Crop.jpg
Statistics
Real nameWilliam Thomas Wells
Nickname(s)Bombardier
Weight(s)Heavyweight
Height6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Nationality United Kingdom
Born(1889-08-31)31 August 1889
Stepney, London, England
Died12 June 1967(1967-06-12) (aged 77)
Ealing, London, England
StanceOrthodox
Boxing record
Total fights59
Wins48
Wins by KO30
Losses11
Draws0
No contests0
Wells in 1912.

William Thomas Wells, better known as Bombardier Billy Wells (31 August 1889 – 12 June 1967), was an English heavyweight boxer. Fighting under the name "Bombardier Billy Wells", he was British and British Empire Champion from 1911 until 1919, defending his title fourteen times. In 1911 he became the first Heavyweight to win the Lonsdale Belt, which had been introduced for British champions at all weights in 1909.

Wells, who was 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) and was between 182 and 192 lb (83 and 87 kg), fought with an orthodox style.

Early life[edit]

Wells was born at 250 Cable Street, Stepney, in the East End of London. He was the eldest of five brothers and was one of nine children. His parents were William Thomas Wells, a musician, and Emily Rhoda Farrier, a laundress. He attended Broad Street elementary school, Queensbury until about the age of twelve, then becoming a messenger boy. He began to box as an amateur during this period.

In 1906, Wells joined the Royal Artillery as a gunner. He was posted to Rawalpindi where he boxed in divisional and all-India championships, with great success. He was promoted to a bombardier, and began training full-time with the help of a civilian coach. It became apparent that Wells was good enough to make a living from boxing, so in 1910, he bought himself out of the army and returned to Britain. This was at a time when boxing was becoming very popular as a spectator sport, in Britain and elsewhere.

Professional career[edit]

Wells had his first professional fight on 8 June 1910, against Gunner Joe Mills, winning on points over six rounds. In his first eight fights he recorded seven wins and one defeat. In his next fight he fought for the British Heavyweight Title, at the National Sporting Club, Covent Garden, London. The fight was in April 1911 against Iron (William) Hague, the holder, and Wells won by a knockout in the sixth round of twenty.

Wells was matched to fight the current world heavyweight champion, Jack Johnson, in London in October 1911, but religious opponents of excessive prize money, led by Baptist minister Frederick Brotherton Meyer, and opponents of contests between the races, caused the fight to be cancelled by Winston Churchill, who was then Home Secretary. A 'colour bar' remained in British boxing until 1947.

In December 1911, Wells fought Fred Storbeck at Covent Garden for the British Empire Heavyweight Title, scoring a knockout in the eleventh round to gain his second title in one year.

In June 1913, Wells fought the extremely talented Frenchman Georges Carpentier for the European Heavyweight Title. The bout was held in Ghent, Belgium, and Wells lost by a knockout in the fourth round.

Wells defended his British heavyweight title three times in 1913, and then in December of the same year, he had a rematch with Carpentier for his European title. The bout was held at Covent garden, but again Carpentier won, this time by a knockout in the first round.

Wells continued to box and successfully defend his British heavyweight title, even after the start of World War I. In May 1915, Wells joined up for military service (in the Welch Regiment) and was later made a sergeant.[1] He continued to box until the end of 1916, and in 1917 was sent to France to organize physical training amongst the troops.

After the end of the war, Wells resumed his boxing career. His fourteenth defence of his British heavyweight title, and of his British Empire title was against Joe Beckett, a boxer whom he had beaten on points two months previously. The bout was held in February 1919, in Holborn, London, and Beckett won by a knockout in the fifth round to take Wells’ titles.

Wells then had five more bouts, winning them all, before having a rematch against Beckett in May 1920. The bout was held at Olympia, Kensington, but again Wells was knocked out, this time in the third round.

Wells continued to fight, having eight [?] more bouts, winning five and losing six. His last fight was in April 1925.

Private life[edit]

In 1911, he published a book, Modern Boxing: a Practical Guide to Present Day Methods.

On 7 September 1912, Wells married Ellen Kilroy, the daughter of a publican. They had five children before eventually parting.

In 1923, he published the book, Physical energy: Showing how physical and mental energy may be developed by means of the practice of boxing, Publisher: T.W. Laurie.

The Lonsdale Belt that Wells won was the original heavyweight belt and was crafted from 22 carat gold unlike later belts. The belt was kept at the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich, South East London, but is now at Larkhill, Salisbury following the move of the home of the Royal Artillery and is still not on display to the general public.

Wells was also famous for being the third person to fill the role of the "gongman" - the figure seen striking the gong in the introduction to J. Arthur Rank films.

He lived in Ealing, London and died there on 11 June 1967, aged 77. His ashes were laid to rest in the crypt of St. Mary's parish church in Hanwell, west London.

Professional boxing record[edit]

48 Wins (30 Knockouts), 11 Defeats (10 Knockouts), [2]
Result Record Opponent Type Round, Time Date Location
Loss 48-11-0 United States Jack Stanley KO 3 (15) 1925-04-30 United Kingdom Royal Albert Hall, Kensington
Win 48-10-0 Canada Soldier Jones DQ 6 (20) 1925-01-30 United Kingdom The Dome, Brighton
Win 47-10-0 United Kingdom General Bennett RTD 9 (15) 1924-12-15 United Kingdom Olympia, Liverpool
Win 46-10-0 United Kingdom Charlie Penwill KO 2 (15) 1924-11-24 United Kingdom Pitfield Street Baths, Hoxton
Loss 45-10-0 United Kingdom Jack Bloomfield KO 6 (15) 1922-11-12 United Kingdom Royal Albert Hall, Kensington
Loss 45-9-0 United Kingdom Frank Goddard KO 6 (20) 1922-05-27 United Kingdom Crystal Palace, Sydenham
Win 45-8-0 Australia Albert Kid Lloyd RTD 10 (20) 1922-04-21 United Kingdom National Sporting Club, Covent Garden
Win 44-8-0 France Paul Journee KO 16 (20) 1920-09-07 France Deauville, France
Loss 43-8-0 United Kingdom Joe Beckett KO 3 (20) 1920-05-10 United Kingdom Olympia, Kensington
Win 43-7-0 United States Eddie McGoorty KO 16 (20) 1920-04-08 Scotland Stadium, Holborn
Win 42-7-0 France Paul Journee KO 4 (20) 1920-03-17 United Kingdom Royal Albert Hall, Kensington
Win 41-7-0 United Kingdom Harry Reeve KO 4 (20) 1920-01-27 United Kingdom Canterbury Music Hall, Lambeth
Win 40-7-0 United Kingdom Arthur Townley RSF 9 (20) 1919-11-20 Scotland Stadium, Holborn
Win 39-7-0 United Kingdom Jack Curphey KO 2 (20) 1919-11-17 Scotland Stadium, Holborn
Loss 38-7-0 United Kingdom Joe Beckett KO 5 (20) 1919-02-27 Scotland Stadium, Holborn
Win 38-6-0 United Kingdom Joe Beckett PTS 3 1918-12-12 United Kingdom Royal Albert Hall, Kensington
Win 37-6-0 Wales Ivor Powell PTS 3 1918-12-11 United Kingdom Royal Albert Hall, Kensington
Win 36-6-0 United States Eddie McGoorty PTS 3 1918-12-11 United Kingdom Royal Albert Hall, Kensington
Win 35-6-0 Republic of Ireland Private Dan Voyles RSF 2 (20) 1916-12-18 United Kingdom National Sporting Club, Covent Garden
Win 34-6-0 United Kingdom Dick Smith RTD 9 (20) 1916-08-28 United Kingdom Woolwich, London
Win 33-6-0 United Kingdom Matthew Curran RTD 5 (15) 1916-03-31 United Kingdom Cosmopolitan Gymnasium, Plymouth
Win 32-6-0 United Kingdom Dick Smith KO 2 (20) 1916-02-21 United Kingdom Hippodrome, Golders Green
Win 31-6-0 United Kingdom Bandsman Dick Rice KO 1 (20) 1915-12-26 United Kingdom Pudsey Street Stadium, Liverpool
Win 30-6-0 United Kingdom Dick Smith KO 9 (20) 1915-03-31 United Kingdom The Ring, Blackfriars
Loss 29-6-0 United States Frank Moran KO 10 (20) 1915-03-29 United Kingdom Opera House, Covent Garden
Win 29-5-0 United Kingdom Bandsman Dick Rice KO 6 (20) 1915-02-24 United Kingdom Opera House, Belfast
Win 28-5-0 Canada Dan McGoldrick RTD 7 (15) 1915-02-12 United Kingdom Cosmopolitan Gymnasium, Plymouth
Win 27-5-0 Australia Colin Bell KO 2 (20) 1914-06-30 United Kingdom Olympia, Kensington
Win 26-5-0 United Kingdom Bandsman Dick Rice PTS 20 1914-04-30 United Kingdom Pudsey Street Stadium, Liverpool
Win 25-5-0 France Albert Lurie KO 7 (20) 1914-04-02 United Kingdom Canterbury Music Hall, Lambeth
Win 24-5-0 United Kingdom Bandsman Jack Blake KO 4 (20) 1914-03-03 United Kingdom London Palladium, United Kingdom
Win 23-5-0 France Gaston Pigot KO 1 (20) 1914-01-24 Wales Cardiff, Wales
Win 22-5-0 Republic of Ireland General Gus Rawles RTD 10 (20) 1914-01-14 Republic of Ireland Threatre Royal, Belfast
Loss 21-5-0 France Georges Carpentier KO 1 (20) 1913-12-08 United Kingdom National Sporting Club, Covent Garden
Win 21-4-0 United Kingdom General Moir KO 4 (20) 1913-11-10 United Kingdom Canterbury Music Hall
Win 20-4-0 United Kingdom Pat O'Keeffe KO 15 (20) 1913-08-04 United Kingdom The Ring, Blackfriers
Win 19-4-0 Republic of Ireland Packy Mahoney RSF 13 (20) 1913-06-30 United Kingdom National Sporting Club, Covent Garden
Loss 18-4-0 France Georges Carpentier KO 1 (20) 1913-06-01 Belgium Ghent, Belgium
Loss 18-3-0 United States Gunboat Smith KO 2 1913-03-14 United States New York City, USA
Win 18-2-0 South Africa George Rodel KO 2 (20) 1912-12-06 United Kingdom King’s Hall, Southwark
Win 17-2-0 United States Tom Kennedy KO 8 1912-07-18 United States Madison Square Garden, New York City
Loss 16-2-0 United Kingdom Al Palzer KO 3 1912-06-28 United States Madison Square Garden, New York City
Win 16-1-0 South Africa Fred Storbeck KO 11 (20) 1911-12-18 United Kingdom National Sporting Club, Covent Garden
Win 15-1-0 United Kingdom Iron Hague KO 6 (20) 1911-04-24 United Kingdom National Sporting Club, Covent Garden
Win 14-1-0 United States Dan Flynn PTS 20 1911-03-08 United Kingdom Olympia, Kensington
Loss 13-1-0 United Kingdom General Moir RSF 3 (20) 1911-01-11 United Kingdom Olympia, Kensington
Win 13-0-0 United Kingdom Seaman Parsons KO 1 (20) 1910-11-16 United Kingdom King’s Hall, Southwark
Win 12-0-0 Republic of Ireland Private Dan Voyles KO 10 (20) 1910-10-19 United Kingdom King’s Hall, Southwark
Win 11-0-0 United Kingdom Corporal Sunshine KO 6 (20) 1910-09-15 United Kingdom King’s Hall, Southwark
Win 10-0-0 United Kingdom Corporal Brown KO 3 (10) 1910-07-23 United Kingdom Wonderland, Whitechapel
Win 9-0-0 United Kingdom General McMurray KO 1 (10) 1910-06-22 United Kingdom Garrison Theatre, Shoebury
Win 8-0-0 United Kingdom General Joe Mills PTS 6 1910-05-08 United Kingdom Wells Club, London
Win 7-0-0 Republic of Ireland Private Clohessy RTD 3 1910-02-13 India Lucknow, India
Win 6-0-0 Republic of Ireland Private Clohessy PTS ? 1909-09 India Poona, India
Win 5-0-0 United Kingdom Sargeant Gale KO 1 1909-09 India Poona, India
Win 4-0-0 United Kingdom Corporal Goulborn KO 1 1909-09 India Poona, India
Win 3-0-0 United Kingdom Private Tansell KO 3 1909 India Poona, India
Win 2-0-0 United Kingdom Private Jarvis KO 2 1909 India Poona, India
Win 1-0-0 United Kingdom General Turner KO 3 1909 India Poona, India

Selected filmography[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ ""Bombardier" Wells Enlists". Sussex Agricultural Express. 28 May 1915. Retrieved 4 October 2014 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)).
  2. ^ Bombardier Billy Wells' Professional Boxing Record. Retrieved on 2018-10-30.

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]