David Pearce (boxer)

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David Pearce
David 'Bomber' Pearce.jpeg
Pearce in 1983
Height5 ft 11 in (180 cm)
Born(1959-05-08)8 May 1959
Pillgwenlly, Newport, Monmouthshire, UK
Died20 May 2000(2000-05-20) (aged 41)

David 'Bomber' Pearce (8 May 1959 – 20 May 2000) was a British heavyweight boxing champion.

He was one of a quartet of exciting British heavyweights in the 1980s, along with Frank Bruno, John L. Gardner and Noel Quarless, who held out the possibility of a future British heavyweight world champion.[1]

Pearce was seen as the first real Cruiserweight from Great Britain, but due to the BBBoC reluctance to recognise the division he was unable to fight for the WBA Cruiserweight title in 1983 after signing the contract. Subsequently the BBBoC recognised the Cruiserweight division in 1985, 1 year after Pearce was forced to retire.

Pearce defeated a number of top heavyweights, by knockout, in his career, including Mal Tetley, Winston Allen, Denton Ruddock, Larry McDonald, Ishaq Hussain, Dennis Andries, Gordon Ferris, Albert Syben, Neville Meade and John Tate.

Biographical details[edit]

Pearce, born in Pillgwenlly, Newport, Gwent, was one of nine children: seven brothers, six of whom boxed professionally, and one who was a professional dancer, and two sisters.

He boxed out of St Josephs ABC in Pillgwenlly, Newport and coached junior and senior boxers at Alway ABC in Newport before his death.

Soon after his final professional fight in 1990, against Percell Davies in Michigan, Pearce became seriously ill, in later years developing epilepsy. There was no specific evidence that this had been brought on by repeated blows to the head, but he immediately retired from boxing on medical advice. He died 10 years later, at the age of 41, due to SADS (Sudden Adult Death Syndrome). The South Wales Argus described him as "Newport's most famous boxer."[2] Around 2,000 people attended his funeral in Newport at Stow Hill Cemetery.[3]

Boxing career achievements[edit]

  • Pearce won the Welsh and British Heavyweight Boxing Titles in September 1983.[4]
  • In March 1984 Pearce knocked down Lucien Rodriguez twice in Limoges whilst fighting for the prestigious European Heavyweight Title.[5]
  • Pearce was ranked as high as No.7 in the Heavyweight World rankings before his career was cut short.[6]
  • Pearce was ranked No.3 in the WBC World Cruiserweight Rankings after the KO of Micheal "Jack" Johnson in 1984.
  • Pearce was due to fight Buster Douglas in Columbus, Ohio, USA but was pulled out whilst warming up in the changing room on 3 hrs notice.[7]
  • David Pearce Vs Leon Spinks was called off and a new opponent found on 24 hrs notice, even though contracts were signed.[8]
  • David Pearce was medically retired in 1984. This was something he disputed, until after his last semi - Professional boxing bout in 1994. The Reason for the dispute was David had been given a clean bill of health and a confirmation letter from a Harley Street Neurologist Consultant stating, "He was at no greater risk, than any other professional boxer"
  • Pearce came 2nd in the BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year in 1983.[9]
  • Steve Lillis, boxing journalist and co-presenter of Box-Nation, voted David 'Bomber' Pearce in his Top Ten most Underrated British boxing champions (Lonsdale Belt Holders) of all time.[10]

British Heavyweight Title[edit]

  • Pearce suffered two setbacks on his road to the British title. A loss to Neville Meade when still a raw teenager, and to John Rafferty, Pearce had knocked down Rafferty four times before he was disqualified in the 3rd round for punching after the referee had called break.
  • Pearce fought and stopped Dennis Andries, the three times WBC world light heavyweight world champion, in the 7th round. Dennis Andries went 6 years before being stopped again, this time by Thomas Hearns in the 10th round.[11]
  • Pearce, challenged and vowed to avenge his loss to Neville Meade to win the Welsh and British Heavyweight titles.[5]
  • Pearce won the Welsh and British Heavyweight Boxing Titles in September 1983 at the St David's Hall against Commonwealth Gold Medalist and British Heavyweight Champion Neville Meade; Although the Welsh Title was won on the night, the title had to be relinquished by Pearce, due to his commitments of becoming British Heavyweight Champion.[4]
  • Pearce is noted for boxing in the last 15-round British championship bout, as the contracts for the bout were finalised before the new 12-round format was introduced.[12]

European Heavyweight Title (EBU)[edit]

  • David Pearce drew with Felipe Rodriquez for the EBU title. Felipe Rodriquez has a statue erected in his hometown of Vilaxoan [13]
  • The European heavyweight title fight saw Pearce knock down Lucien Rodriguez, the long-standing European Champion, twice in the 8th round. Both the counts were over 10 seconds, 13 and 17 seconds respectively, the most experienced judge scored the fight 114-115 and the referee score card read 115-114. Some observers, including Reg Gutteridge, felt Pearce was very unlucky not to get the verdict due to the two infamous long counts.[14]
  • Pearce was one decision away from being mandatory to fight Larry Holmes for the WBC Heavyweight World title as Rodriquez had done in 1983. In doing so Pearce would have been the first Welshman since Tommy Farr to fight for the title.
  • Lucien Rodriquez was quoted in the French press as saying that Pearce had been "the toughest man he had faced" in his whole boxing career, "he had an Iron Chin, and would walk you down taking a lot of punches just to unload his bombs, but he had devastating power!" and that "Pearce did what two World Champions couldn't do".
  • David "Bomber" Pearce's family were awarded the original EBU Heavyweight Boxing Belt and a letter signed by the president and secretary of the board at the unveiling of the Bronze Statue in his honour.

World Cruiserweight Title (WBA)[edit]

  • David signed a contract, through promoter Frank Warren, to fight the winner between Ossie Occasio v John Odihamibo for the WBA Cruiserweight title. This was before Pearce's boxing career was cruelly cut short due to medical reasons.[15]

Unsanctioned bouts[edit]

Pearce knocked out John Tate, and Mary Konate, in 1 and 3 rounds respectively, in unsanctioned bouts in Bakersfield, California in 1994. This was reported by Mr John Francis of the South Wales Argus.[16]

Other notable boxing facts[edit]

  • Pearce ran up the steps of the Newport Transporter Bridge as a training aid.
  • Pearce gave away at least 2 stone (28 lb; 13 kg) to most opponents during his career.[17]
  • Pearce weighed exactly the same weight as Johnny Nelson when he fought Dennis Andries, Pearce's KO of Dennis Andries was 15 years earlier.[11]
  • Pearce won two Heavyweight Prizefighter Tournaments during his career.[18]
  • Pearce sparred 20 rounds with Commonwealth Heavyweight Champion Trevor Berbick in the lead up to Pearce's British Heavyweight Title fight. This included a knockdown of Berbick in 1983, Pearce was Trevor Berbick’s number one challenger to the commonwealth heavyweight title. Berbick decided not to defend against David Pearce.[19]
  • Joe Bugner was floored by David Pearce during a sparring session, before a possible bout with Pearce for his comeback fight. This resulted in Bugner choosing another opponent.[20]
  • Pearce sparred with Lennox Lewis, in the lead up to Lewis becoming British Heavyweight Champion.[20]
  • Pearce retired due to an abnormality on the brain something he was born with, he was subsequently offered a contract to fight Lenny McLean, the guvnor in a Heavyweight Unlicenced British Title Fight, David signed the contract but McLean declined to fight.
  • Bartley Gorman offered to fight David Pearce, for the unlicensed British Heavyweight Title for £25,000. Gorman, said if he had won the fight he would have fought for the world bare knuckle title. In his memoirs of an undefeated Bare Knuckle Champion of Great Britain and Ireland, "King of the Gypsies" that Gorman used the phrase "if he won.."[21]
  • David Pearce was good friends with Diana Dors and Alan Lake, who supported him in his 1st rd KO victory over 3 time European Heavyweight titlist Albert Syben
  • Sportswriter Harry Mullan was derogatory about Pearce's size for the Heavyweight division in some of his articles, this had a negative effect at the time. Mullan did praise Pearce in later years, for his bravery and achievements. Harry always maintained David Pearce would have been World Champion in the Cruiserweight division.[22]

Notable quotes and tributes[edit]

  • "Pearce is all action, he is a great crowd pleaser, he comes in flinging punches, cross armed in defence a lot like Rocky Marciano used to and boy does he throw them" "He certainly does unleash them" "He is a born fighter" – Reg Gutteridge – During the Felipe Rodriquez, fight at the Royal Albert Hall, London.[23]
  • "Pearce has won the fight and Pearce has gone berserk, he can hardly believe it!" "23 year old David Pearce,the Bomber they call him from Newport and he has bombed ferris out of the British heavyweight race!" "Well that was one of the most savagely, raw, attacking performances we have seen from a British Heavyweight in many years. That's a little bit like the old days of Dick Richardson and he came from Newport too!" – Reg Gutteridge. Post - David Pearce Final eliminator at the Royal Albert Hall, London.[24][25]
  • "I have never trained so hard in all my life. That was for my father, the people of Newport and also for myself." – Pearce, after his British Heavyweight Title fight at St Davids Hall, Cardiff.[25]
  • "Pearce won the European Heavyweight Title twice last night" in reference to the two long counts (13 & 17 seconds)[26] Reg Gutteridge reporting on the European Heavyweight Title fight the next day.
  • Frank Maloney said of Pearce: "They dont make them like him anymore! Pearce would have fought anybody!"[27]
  • Lucien Rodriguez said: “Pearce did what two World Champions couldn’t do” In reference to his fights with Larry Holmes and Michael Dokes[15]
  • Dick Richardson said: "David should have gone to London, he would have been a superstar. He is the most exciting heavyweight we have seen in many years".[25]
  • Micheal Dokes named David Pearce, "The Welsh Jack Dempsey" whilst sparring under the tutelage of Angelo Dundee.
  • Bimbo Pearce said of his brother: "He would have been unstoppable at cruiserweight"[28]
  • Eddie Avoth described Pearce as: “One of the greatest Welsh fighters we have produced”.[28]
  • Robbie Regan said: “He was the most avoided fighter in the heavyweight division”[28]
  • Steve Sims said: “What a left hook! He is sorely missed and Newport’s own Rocky.”[28]
  • Andy Gerrard said: "his power was truly unbelievable, he was a pound for pound king."[28]
  • "Dave Pearce was a legend, a true hard man." Charles Bronson[29]
  • Craig Kennedy British Cruiserweight challenger said “An absolute inspiration, I just wish I got to meet him”
  • Lee Selby IBF World Featherweight Champion said “David Pearce was one hell of a[30] fighter”
  • Johnny Nelson, former WBO Cruiserweight World Champion, said "Thank god he wasn't around when I was World champion, he was a right handful" Nelson also said "Pearce was ahead of his time" - In reference to the Cruiserweight division being active in the United States and not being active in the United Kingdom.[31]
  • Spencer Fearon said "David Pearce was a fantastic warrior, he was so rugged and powerful."[31]
  • Steve Bunce said "In any other era David Pearce would have been a star."[31] "If the European Heavyweight title fight had been in London or Cardiff, Pearce would have been champion"

Professional boxing record / Unsanctioned bouts[edit]

19 Wins (15 knockouts, 4 decisions), 4 Losses (2 knockouts, 2 decisions), 1 Draw[32]
Result Record Opponent Type Round Date Location Notes
Win 34-3 United States John Tate TKO 3 10 June 1994 California Hilton Hotel, Bakersfield, California, United States Unsanctioned Bout.
Win 16-6 Finland Mary Konate TKO 1 12 April 1994 California Hilton Hotel, Bakersfield, California, United States Unsanctioned Bout.
Loss 13-9 United States Percell Davis TKO 8 10 December 1990 Michigan Hyatt Regency Hotel, Dearborn, Michigan, United States Unsanctioned Bout

Pearce took the fight on 3 days notice.

Loss 36-8-1 France Lucien Rodriguez PTS 12 30 March 1984 France Palais des Sports de Beaublanc, Limoges, Haute-Vienne, France EBU Heavyweight Title.

Rodriguez took standing 8 count in round 3, and dropped heavily twice in round 8 for 13 seconds and 17 seconds.

Win 11-2 United States Michael Johnson TKO 5 28 January 1984 England Victoria Hall, Hanley, Staffordshire, United Kingdom Johnson hurt from uppercut and turned his back to retire.
Win 20-12-1 Wales Neville Meade TKO 9 22 September 1983 Wales St David's Hall, Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom BBBofC Wales Heavyweight Title.

BBBofC British Heavyweight Title.

Referee stopped the bout at 2:57 of round 9.

Win 35-4-2 Belgium Albert Syben KO 1 7 April 1983 England Lyceum Ballroom, The Strand, London, United Kingdom Syben knocked out at 2:25 of the first round.
Draw 24-5-3 Spain Felipe Rodriquez PTS 10 7 December 1982 England Royal Albert Hall, Kensington, London, United Kingdom Vacant EBU Heavyweight Title.


Win 20-5 Northern Ireland Gordon Ferris KO 5 1 June 1982 England Royal Albert Hall, Kensington, London, United Kingdom BBBofC British Heavyweight Title Eliminator. Final Eliminator for BBBofC British Heavyweight Title; Ferris down in round 3 and stopped in round 5 failed to meet the count at 1:44 of the fifth round.
Win 13-4-1 United Kingdom Dennis Andries TKO 7 12 October 1981 England Bloomsbury Centre Hotel, Bloomsbury, London, United Kingdom Andries heavily down in Rd 6, from an uppercut. Down twice in Rd 7 before Referee stopped the bout at 2:15 of the seventh round.
Win 15-9 United Kingdom Ishaq Hussein TKO 1 8 June 1981 England Porter Tun Rooms, Moorgate, United Kingdom time: 2:03 Ref Stopped Fight on 2nd Knock Down.
Win 4-0 United Kingdom Larry McDonald KO 3 16 March 1981 England National Sporting Club, Piccadilly, London, United Kingdom Mcdonald down heavily in the third from a left hook to the body.
Win 15-27-1 Wales Bonny McKenzie PTS 8 2 March 1981 England National Sporting Club, Piccadilly, London, United Kingdom 79.5-78.5.
loss 2-1 Scotland John Rafferty DQ 3 26 January 1981 Scotland St.Andrew's Sporting Club, Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom Pearce disqualified at 1:32 of the third round due to hitting a downed opponent, Rafferty down 4 times before the DQ. The decision was disputed through the official channels via Pearce's trainer and promoter
Loss 14-11-1 Wales Neville Meade TKO 2 22 January 1980 Wales Double Diamond Club, Caerphilly, United Kingdom BBBofC Wales Heavyweight Title.

Referee stopped the bout at 2:48 of the second round.

Win 8-3 United Kingdom Denton Ruddock TKO 7 30 October 1979 Wales Double Diamond Club, Caerphilly, United Kingdom
Win 8-12 United Kingdom Theo Josephs TKO 3 5 July 1979 Wales Afan Lido, Port Talbot, United Kingdom time: 2:35 of Rd 2 Josephs was down in the third.
Win 7-3 Wales Winston Allen PTS 6 3 April 1979 Wales Caerphilly, United Kingdom £1000 Heavyweight Competition Final.

58½-59½, Allen was down in the fourth.

Win 11-14 Wales Bonny McKenzie PTS 8 19 February 1979 England Mayfair Sporting Club, Mayfair, London, United Kingdom McKenzie down in sixth and seventh. 79-78.
Win 1-0-1 United Kingdom Mal Tetley KO 1 22 January 1979 England Mayfair, London, United Kingdom £2000 Heavyweight competition semi final.

time 0:15 of Rd 1.

Win 4-3 United Kingdom Bobby Hennessey TKO 2 22 January 1979 England Mayfair, London, United Kingdom £2000 Heavyweight Competition Final.
Win 6-10 United Kingdom Theo Josephs PTS 8 11 December 1978 Devon Plymouth, Devon, United Kingdom 79-78.
Win 0-1 United Kingdom Bob Bleau KO 1 1 December 1978 Kent Minster-in-Thanet, United Kingdom KO time: 0:50.
Win -- United Kingdom Osborne Taylor TKO 1 15 November 1978 Wales Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, United Kingdom £1,000 heavyweight competition semi final.

time: 0:38 of Rd 1.


Pearce Brothers[edit]

  • Walter 'Bimbo' Pearce was a professional boxer, Bimbo won amateur titles from flyweight to Heavyweight in over 200 fights. Bimbo won the Heavyweight WABA Title in 1973 and defeated the Light Heavyweight Central Champion also in the same year.[33]
  • Raymond Pearce a middleweight fought the three times WBC world Light Heavyweight champion Dennis Andries.[34] Raymond is now a United States Citizen and an Elvis impersonator.[35]
  • Gary Pearce challenged for the Welsh Welterweight and Light Middleweight Titles. Gary Pearce travelled to Randers, Denmark to fight Hans Henrik Palm, the long-standing European Welterweight Champion, Gary took him the distance including a knockdown of the Champion in rd 6 but ultimately lost the fight by 1/2 point. One story which will go down in boxing folklore.. Gary was enjoying a night out at a professional boxing show with friends, when Frank Warren the respected boxing promoter asked him to fight Gary Knight, whose opponent had pulled out at late notice. Gary accepted and made his way from the crowd, he borrowed kit from all the other fighters on the show. Gary then fought the then number 1 British Welterweight Gary Knight over 10 rounds. Gary struggled in the early rounds, and was repeatedly sick in the corner between rounds. Gary fought back brilliantly in the middle part of the fight and ended the fight the strongest, albeit ending up losing by 1/2 point over 10 rounds in what local newspapers had him winning.[36]
  • Ronald Pearce was a professional boxer, he fought Paul Wetter and Robert Smith the now BBBoC General secretary.[37]
  • Nigel Pearce had five fights as a professional boxer.
  • Simon Pearce the seventh brother graduated from Italia Conti and subsequently went on to star in Starlight Express, Cats, and Mousetrap musicals in the West End. Simon Pearce starred as Mr Soft in the famous soft mints TV advert. Simon was offered the chance to front the band Steps but turned it down due to personal reasons. His friends Included Liza Minnelli and Frank Sinatra.[38]
  • Luke Pearce won the lightweight armed forces representative tournament title in the year 2000 in Aldershot. After winning the Welsh Guards Lightweight, and Welterweight titles, he fought and beat Chris Harman in the Welsh Guards Boxing Championships. Luke fought in the Welsh Boxing Federation, and Chris Harman went on to win the WABA Welsh Heavyweight Title in 2006, and fight Mark Potter for the UK Cage Fighting Title. Luke served with the 1st Btn Welsh Guards in the British Army, passed selection for the Royal Navy, and served as an Airman in the Royal Air Force. Luke Commissioned into the Royal Air Force as a Flying Officer in 2016. Luke Pearce's God Mother is Debbie Pulis, the wife of Tony Pulis, the football manager.[39]


Pearce has been name-checked in a number of books, including Diana Dors' A-Z of Men, Bartley Gorman and Peter Walsh's King of the Gypsies and Leighton Frayne's The Frayne Brothers. Paddy Monaghan's "TheSunshine in my life".[40][41]

Pearce's family relative Luke Pearce has donated 61 copies of a portrait of Pearce, to be installed at well-known locations in Newport and the rest of Wales and the UK. Including 3 overseas locations.[42]

Boxing News, the UK's biggest boxing magazine, supported the campaign for a Pearce statue.[43] In 2016 The David 'Bomber' Pearce Statue Fund was given permission to erect a bronze sculpture to commemorate Pearce in Newport City Centre.[44] On the 9 June 2018 a life-sized sculpture of Pearce, by Laury Dizengremel, was unveiled at Newport riverfront.[45]

A charitable organisation named #NewportsRocky was set up to support local community projects in the South Wales area.[45]



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  3. ^ Martin Wade (3 September 2016). "The Long View: The Newport boxing great who came close to the top and was dubbed the city's own 'Rocky'". southwalesargus.co.uk. Retrieved 14 November 2016.
  4. ^ a b "David Pearce, British Heavyweight Champion". Johnnyowen.comBoxRec. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
  5. ^ a b "BoxRec - Lucien Rodriguez". BoxRec. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
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  12. ^ http://boxrec.com/en/boxer/2365
  13. ^ Pantera Rodríguez. Alfonso Vilar. Vilaxoán. Vilagarcía de Arousa. Galiza VV02.jpg
  14. ^ "David Pearce". Welsh boxers. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
  15. ^ a b "Magazine - Boxing News". Retrieved 20 November 2018.
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  17. ^ a b "David Pearce". BoxRec. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
  18. ^ "BoxRec - David Pearce". BoxRec. Retrieved 14 January 2017.
  19. ^ "Latest - Boxing News".
  20. ^ a b South Wales Argus, 23 May 2000
  21. ^ Bartley Gorman; Peter Walsh. "King of the Gypsies: Memoirs of the Undefeated Bareknuckle Champion of Great ..." Books.google.co.uk. p. 141. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
  22. ^ "John L. Gardner and Danny Mcalinden - Page 2 - BoxRec". BoxRec.
  23. ^ "davidpearcevrodriguez - YouTube". M.youtube.com. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
  24. ^ "davidpearcevgordonferris - YouTube". M.youtube.com. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
  25. ^ a b c BBC Archives - Past Present Future information and archives preservation services (1983).
  26. ^ BBC Archives - Past Present Future information and archives preservation services (1984
  27. ^ "Jason Booth v Jamie Arthur: Round by round | Nottingham Post". M.nottinghampost.com. 5 February 2011. Retrieved 18 July 2016.[permanent dead link]
  28. ^ a b c d e "Statue appeal for Newport boxer David Pearce reaches £20,000". South Wales Argus.
  29. ^ "Charles Bronson wants a statue of boxing hero David Pearce built in Wales". 8 April 2017. Retrieved 20 November 2018.
  30. ^ "Welsh boxing champion helps raise funds toward David 'Bomber' Pearce statue campaign". South Wales Argus. Retrieved 20 November 2018.
  31. ^ a b c https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=CiGbyJRcXak
  32. ^ "Marvin Camel". BoxRec. Archived from the original on 1 April 2015. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
  33. ^ "Boxer Walter Bimbo Pearce Newport". Boxinghistory.org.uk. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
  34. ^ "Ray Pearce". BoxRec. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
  35. ^ "Vacaville man finds niche as Elvis tribute artist". Dailyrepublic.com. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
  36. ^ "Gary Pearce". BoxRec. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
  37. ^ "Ronald Pearce". BoxRec. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
  38. ^ Bridge, Sarah. "Former West End star Simon Pearce reveals how he was left suicidal | Daily Mail Online". Dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
  39. ^ Martin Wade. "Newport ex-soldier becomes RAF officer". M.southwalesargus.co.uk. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
  40. ^ Gorman, Bartley (2011). Bareknuckle: Memoirs of the Undefeated Champion. The Overlook Press. ISBN 9781468303100.
  41. ^ "paddy monaghan book - Google Search". www.google.co.uk.
  42. ^ https://www.southwalesargus.co.uk/news/15544061.support-for-newport-boxer-hero-comes-from-caribbean/
  43. ^ Alex Daley. "Campgain for "Newport's Rocky"". Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  44. ^ "Campaign launched to put up statue of Newport boxing legend David Pearce". southwalesargus.co.uk.
  45. ^ a b https://www.southwalesargus.co.uk/news/16278552.statue-of-newports-rocky-to-be-unveiled-this-weekend-at-entertainment-filled-event/

External links[edit]