Bruce Woodcock (boxer)

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Bruce Woodcock
Statistics
Rated at Light heavyweight, heavyweight
Height 6 ft 0.5 in (184 cm)
Reach 72.5 in (184 cm)[1]
Nationality British
Born (1921-01-18)18 January 1921
Doncaster, West Riding of Yorkshire, England, UK
Died 21 December 1997(1997-12-21) (aged 76)
Doncaster, England, UK
Stance Orthodox
Boxing record
Total fights 39
Wins 35
Wins by KO 31
Losses 4

Bruce Woodcock (18 January 1921 – 21 December 1997)[2] was an English light heavyweight and heavyweight boxer from Doncaster. He held the British and Empire heavyweight titles from 1945 to 1950, and was the European heavyweight champion 1946-1949. He fought unsuccessfully for a World title in 1950.

Biography[edit]

Early life and amateur career[edit]

Born in Doncaster, West Riding of Yorkshire in 1921 and brought up in Balby, Woodcock took up boxing at the age of 6, and was a schoolboy champion at the age of 12.[3] He went on to work as a railway fitter in the L.N.E.R. loco sheds, joining the attached amateur boxing club.[3] He was trained during his early years by his father, a former British Army lightweight champion.[4]

In 1938-39 he won the Northern Counties light heavyweight championship, qualifying for the ABA finals at the Royal Albert Hall in 1939, which he also won, beating A. Ford in the final.[3][5] He represented England at the 1939 European Amateur Boxing Championships in Dublin, losing to Franciszek Szymura of Poland in the semi-final, and to Lajos Szigeti of Hungary in the third place bout.[2]

Professional career[edit]

His railway job being deemed necessary war work, he was not called up during the Second World War, but in the early 1940s was redeployed to Manchester, where he worked as a maintenance engineer in a shell-making plant at Dukinfield. While in Manchester he met Tom Hurst, who became his manager, and he turned professional. He began his professional career in January 1942 with a third round knockout of Fred Clarke,[3][6][7] winning all of his first 20 bouts, 19 by stoppage, including a third round knockout of Jack Robinson to take the BBBofC Northern Area cruiserweight title in September 1942 and a win over Canadian champion Al Delaney in October 1944.[3] He held the Northern Area title until relinquishing in October 1944.[3]

In July 1945, at White Hart Lane, Tottenham, Woodcock defeated the current champion Jack London to take the British and Empire heavyweight tiles.[3] Woodcock won by a knockout in round six after having London down three times in that round.[3][8] In September 1945, Woodcock was ranked third in the world by The Ring magazine, behind Tami Mauriello and Jimmy Bivins.[9]

Woodcock won his next four bouts, including a win over Irish champion Martin Thornton,[10] before suffering his first loss, by TKO at the hands of the vastly more experienced Mauriello at Madison Square Garden in May 1946.[3][11] He bounced back from this by defeating Freddie Mills on points in June,[12] before winning the European title by knocking out Paul Albert Renet in the sixth round in July.[13] Woodcock went on to win his next three fights, stopping Gus Lesnevich in September,[14] before rounding out the year by knocking out French champion Georges Martin in November and stopping Nils Andersson in December.[15][16]

In March 1947 he successfully defended his European title against Stephane Olek,[17] but a month later suffered his second loss, against Joe Baksi at the Harringay Arena in a fight billed as a final eliminator for the World title. He was floored three times in the first round and twice in the second and yet tried to come back before the referee stopped it in the seventh. He was later found to have suffered a broken jaw during in the first round of the fight, requiring a stay of almost two weeks in hospital.[18][19] Later in the year he spent several weeks in Leeds Infirmary being treated for an eye injury initially claimed to have been sustained while working in a quarry, although a hospital report later confirmed that the injury was a detached retina sustained in the Baksi fight, and he didn't return to the ring until September 1948.[2][19][20][21]

Again, Woodcock bounced back in impressive fashion, scoring wins over Lee Oma and Lee Savold,[22][23] followed by a third-round knockout of Johnny Ralph in March 1949 to win the British Empire Title (now known as Commonwealth Title) in South Africa.[24][25]

On 2 June 1949, Woodcock again beat Freddie Mills, retaining the British, European and Empire heavyweight titles by a KO in round 14, in front of 50,000 people at the White City Stadium.[1]

Woodcock was due to meet Lee Savold for the World heavyweight title (vacant due to the retirement of Joe Louis) in September 1949, but in August suffered head and shoulder injuries and concussion after crashing his lorry.[26] The fight was initially rescheduled for May 1950, and as part of his training, Woodcock offered £100 to any sparring partner who could knock him down and £5 to anyone who could stay on their feet for a round in training.[27] Woodcock and Savold eventually met on 6 June 1950 at White City before over 50,000 spectators.[2][28] This was done under the auspices of the British Boxing Board of Control and recognised throughout Europe and the Commonwealth but not in the USA. In the event, a 15 round contest, Woodcock's left eye sustained a bad cut, and the fight was stopped in the fourth round.[29]

On 14 November 1950, Woodcock lost his British and Empire Titles to Jack Gardner by an 11th round TKO at Earl's Court.[30] The following day he announced his retirement from boxing to avoid further damage to his eyes.[30][31] In 1951, his autobiography, Two Fists and a Fortune, was published.

Woodcock planned to return to boxing, but in March 1952 was refused a licence by the British Boxing Board of Control.[32]

Woodcock was known as a skilled and aggressive boxer with a good punch, however his face was vulnerable as the result of reopened cuts sustained through many bouts, and he was small for a heavyweight, putting him at a disadvantage on occasion. He finished with a record of 35 wins (31 knockouts) from 39 fights, with 4 losses.

Personal life and retirement[edit]

In December 1946, he married Nora Speight (b. 14 July 1922, Doncaster; d. 2 July 2008),[33] with whom he had one son, Bruce,[34] and one daughter, Janet.[2] Bruce's brother, Billy, was also a boxer.

Woodcock became the licensee of the Angel Hotel in Bolsover in May 1952.[35] He went on to become a boxing manager, looking after local fighters such as Peter Aldridge and Peter Bates.[36][37] He later ran the Tumbler pub in Edlington.

Woodcock died on 21 December 1997, aged 76.[2][38]

In 2013 a biography of Woodcock by Bryan Hughes, Battling Bruce: The Story of the Fighting Career and Rise to Fame of Bruce Woodcock, was published, the author also starting a campaign for a statue of Woodcock to be erected.[38]

Title fights[edit]

39 fights, 35 wins (31 knockouts), 4 losses (4 knockouts)
No. Result Record Opponent Type Round, time Date Location Notes
39 Loss 35–4–0–0 Jack Gardner TKO 11 (15) 1950-11-14 Earls Court Arena, Kensington, London, United Kingdom lost British and Empire heavyweight titles
38 Loss 35–3–0–0 Lee Savold RTD 4 (15) 1950-06-06 White City Stadium, White City, London, United Kingdom for World heavyweight title (recognized by BBBofC)
37 Win 35–2–0–0 Freddie Mills KO 14 (15) 1949-06-02 White City Stadium, White City, London, United Kingdom retained British, Empire, and European heavyweight titles
36 Win 34–2–0–0 Johnny Ralph KO 3 (15) 1949-03-26 Wembley Stadium, Johannesburg, South Africa retained Empire heavyweight title
32 Win 31–1–0–0 Stephane Olek PTS 15 (15) 1947-03-17 King's Hall, Belle Vue, Manchester, Lancashire, United Kingdom retained European heavyweight title
28 Win 27–1–0–0 Albert Renet KO 6 (15) 1946-07-29 King's Hall, Belle Vue, Manchester, Lancashire, United Kingdom won vacant European heavyweight title
21 Win 21–0–0–0 Jack London KO 6 (15) 1945-07-17 White Hart Lane (Tottenham FC), Tottenham, London, United Kingdom won British and Empire heavyweight titles
7 Win 7–0–0–0 Jack Robinson KO 3 (12) 1942-09-25 King's Hall, Belle Vue, Manchester, Lancashire, United Kingdom won BBBofC Northern Area light heavyweight title

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Bruce Woodcock Knocks Out Mills in 14th Round". Western Morning News. 3 June 1949. Retrieved 13 February 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Mee, Bob (1997) "Obituary: Bruce Woodcock", The Independent, 31 December 1997. Retrieved 14 February 2016
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Odd, Gilbert E. (ed.) (1946) Boxing News Annual 1946, War Facts Press, p. 52, 54
  4. ^ "Bruce Woodcock (1946)", British Pathé Youtube channel. Retrieved 14 February 2016
  5. ^ "1939: 55th ABAE National Championship, 29th March 1939, Royal Albert Hall", England Boxing. Retrieved 14 February 2016
  6. ^ Butler, James (23 January 1942). "Tribute to Jackie Paterson". Daily Herald. Retrieved 14 February 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 
  7. ^ "Other results". Dundee Courier. 27 January 1942. Retrieved 14 February 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 
  8. ^ "Bruce Woodcock Champion". Hull Daily Mail. 18 July 1945. Retrieved 13 February 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 
  9. ^ "Bruce Woodcock Ranked Third". Hull Daily Mail. 29 September 1945. Retrieved 13 February 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 
  10. ^ "Woodcock Beats Thornton". Western Daily Press. 25 August 1945. Retrieved 14 February 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 
  11. ^ "Woodcock Lost in Fifth Round". Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette. 18 May 1946. Retrieved 13 February 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 
  12. ^ "Woodcock Wins on Points". Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer. 5 June 1946. Retrieved 14 February 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 
  13. ^ "Bruce Woodcock's Blows Lacked Pep". Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette. 30 July 1946. Retrieved 13 February 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 
  14. ^ "Bruce Woodcock Wins in Eight Rounds". Dundee Courier. 18 September 1946. Retrieved 14 February 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 
  15. ^ "Woodcock's Win". Western Daily Press. 16 November 1946. Retrieved 14 February 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 
  16. ^ "Woodcock Stops Swede in Three Rounds". Dundee Courier. 18 December 1946. Retrieved 14 February 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 
  17. ^ "Olek Was Tough for Woodcock". Gloucestershire Echo. 18 March 1947. Retrieved 14 February 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 
  18. ^ Golesworthy, Maurice (1988) Encyclopaedia of Boxing, Robert Hale, ISBN 0-7090-3323-0, p. 257
  19. ^ a b "Bruce Woodcock: Heavy-Weight Champion May Have Eye Operation". Western Morning News. 28 October 1947. Retrieved 13 February 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 
  20. ^ "Bruce Woodcock". Western Morning News. 3 December 1947. Retrieved 13 February 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 
  21. ^ "Bruce Woodcock's Eye Trouble: Hospital Report Blames Baksi Fight". Western Daily Press. 7 February 1948. Retrieved 13 February 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 
  22. ^ "That Fourth Round Knockout". Hull Daily Mail. 22 September 1948. Retrieved 14 February 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 
  23. ^ "Woodcock Beats Savold on a Disqualification". Western Morning News. 7 December 1948. Retrieved 14 February 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 
  24. ^ "Bruce Woodcock Trains in S. Africa". Hull Daily Mail. 14 March 1949. Retrieved 13 February 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 
  25. ^ "Ralph No Match for Woodcock". Dundee Courier. 28 March 1949. Retrieved 14 February 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 
  26. ^ "Woodcock Injured in Road Accident". Lincolnshire Echo. 4 August 1949. Retrieved 13 February 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 
  27. ^ "Williams Accepts Woodcock Offer". Torbay Express and South Devon Echo. 20 December 1949. Retrieved 13 February 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 
  28. ^ "Only Bruce Woodcock's Temperament Is Suspect: Right to Beat Left for Title". Sheffield Telegraph. 6 June 1950. Retrieved 13 February 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 
  29. ^ "Woodcock Wants to Meet Savold Again". Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer. 8 June 1950. Retrieved 13 February 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 
  30. ^ a b "Bruce Woodcock Retires from the Ring". Western Morning News. 15 November 1950. Retrieved 13 February 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 
  31. ^ Goodall, Hughie (15 November 1950). "'Fear of blindness made me quit boxing,' says Bruce Woodcock". Yorkshire Evening Post. Retrieved 13 February 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 
  32. ^ "Woodcock is Refused Licence to Box Again". Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer. 19 March 1952. Retrieved 13 February 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 
  33. ^ "Bruce Woodcock Married". Gloucestershire Echo. 20 December 1946. Retrieved 13 February 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 
  34. ^ "Son For Bruce Woodcock". Western Morning News. 21 June 1948. Retrieved 13 February 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive. (Subscription required (help)). 
  35. ^ Boxing News Annual 1953, War Facts Press, p. 6
  36. ^ Hoden, Liam (2009) "Feature: Town's Boxing Legend Lives On", Doncaster Free Press, 26 February 2009. Retrieved 14 February 2016
  37. ^ "Battling Shirebrook boxer Bates took on some of the greats", Nottingham Post, 30 March 2013. Retrieved 14 February 2016
  38. ^ a b "Boxing Legend 'Let Down by Managers'", The Star, 6 March 2013. Retrieved 14 February 2016

Sources[edit]

  • Wharton, Ronnie (2005), Fighting Men of the North, Tempus Publishing Limited, ISBN 0-7524-3551-5

Further reading[edit]

  • Woodcock, Bruce (1951) Two Fists and a Fortune, Hutchinson
  • Hughes, Bryan (2013) Battling Bruce: The Story of the Fighting Career and Rise to Fame of Bruce Woodcock

External links[edit]