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Lonsdale Belt

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Lonsdale Belt
First version of the Lonsdale Belt.
Awarded forBritish Boxing Champion
Sponsored byNational Sporting Club, British Boxing Board of Control
CountryUnited Kingdom
Presented byNational Sporting Club (1909–1929)

BBBofC

(1929–present)
First awarded8 November 1909
Websitewww.bbbofc.com

The Lord Lonsdale Challenge Belt, commonly known as the Lonsdale Belt, is the oldest championship belt in British professional boxing.[1] Hugh Lowther, 5th Earl of Lonsdale introduced the prize on behalf of the National Sporting Club (NSC), intending it to be awarded to British boxing champions. Arthur Frederick Bettinson, manager of the NSC, introduced terms and conditions regarding the holding of the belt, which ensured its lasting prestige. Freddie Welsh won the first Lonsdale Belt in 1909 after winning the NSC British Lightweight title. Heavyweight Henry Cooper was the first and only boxer to win three Lonsdale Belts during his 17-year professional career. In 1929 the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC) assumed responsibility for awarding the belt, which continues to be awarded to British champions since then.

Only six boxers have won two Lonsdale belts each outright since 1934, which led to the BBBofC introducing more stringent rules of attainment in the 1980's and 1990's. The last winner of two belts was Clinton McKenzie in 1987. The Lonsdale belt is a coveted prize with great monetary and sentimental value, finding homes in private collections, museums and has been auctioned for large sums of money. Belts have been stolen on numerous occasions, none of which have ever been found. Since 1909, only 161 boxers have won a Lonsdale belt outright across all weights. In 2013 the BBBofC in a move to further acknowledge the esteem held for outright Lonsdale belt winners introduced the Lonsdale Badge, which outright winners of the belt are now entitled to display on their boxing shorts during bouts.

History[edit]

This image depicts the Original Challenge belt design, as described in Origin.
The original Challenge Belt design presented by the National Sporting Club 1909–1929

1909–1936: National Sporting Club[edit]

Lord Lonsdale was the first president of the National Sporting Club (NSC).[2] In 1909, he introduced the Lonsdale Belt—originally the Challenge Belt—as a new trophy for British boxing champions in each weight division.[3] A 9-carat or 22-carat gold belt composed of two heavy chains with a central enamel medallion depicting a boxing match, the centrepiece is flanked by enamel medallions showing single boxers and gold medallions with a scroll on which is inscribed the names of belt winners. The medallions are interspersed with smaller gold medallions depicting the Union Rose. The belts are backed with a red, white and blue ribbon.[4] The belts were made in the Birmingham workshop of jewellers Mappin & Webb.[5] A total of 22 Lonsdale belts were issued by the NSC; 20 were won outright.[3]

The manager of the NSC Arthur Frederick Bettinson published details about the terms and conditions of holding the belt agreed by the NSC in Sporting Life on 22 December 1909. The main rules were:

  • The holder was required to defend his title within six months of a challenge. Minimum stake of £100 a side (£200 for heavyweights, £50 for flyweights)
  • The belt became the holder's property after three successful bouts held under the auspices of the NSC, consecutive or otherwise, or after it was held for three consecutive years. Outright winners would also receive an NSC pension of £50 a year from the age of 50.
  • The holder was required to pay a deposit and insurance for the belt.[6]

The first recipient of this belt was Freddie Welsh, who defeated Johnny Summers on 8 November 1909 for the NSC British Lightweight title.[7]

First holders of NSC Challenge belts
Champion Reign began Defeated Weight class
Wales Freddie Welsh 8 November 1909 Johnny Summers[8] Lightweight
Wales Tom Thomas 20 December 1909 Charlie Wilson[9] Middleweight
England Young Joseph 21 March 1910 Jack Goldswain[10] Welterweight
Wales Jim Driscoll 18 April 1910 Spike Robson[11] Featherweight
England Digger Stanley 17 October 1910 Joe Bowker[12] Bantamweight
England Billy Wells 24 April 1911 Iron Hague[13] Heavyweight
England Sid Smith 4 December 1911 Joe Wilson[14] Flyweight
England Dick Smith 9 March 1914 Dennis Haugh[15] Light-heavyweight

1936–present: British Boxing Board of Control[edit]

This image depicts the second version of the lonsdale belt, as described in British Board of Boxing Control. It is being aloft by [[George Groves]] after a successful title defence.
George Groves displays the Lonsdale belt presented by the BBBofC. Picture is changed to a portrait of Lord Lonsdale, replacing the two boxers in the original version.

The NSC became virtually defunct in 1929 and lost control of the sport to the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC), which started to issue the Lord Lonsdale Challenge Belt in 1936.[16] Lonsdale consented to the use of his name and image on the belt in perpetuity; an image of his face remains on it. In 1939 the last 9-carat gold belt was launched by the BBBofC[16] and won by the lightweight Eric Boon that year.[17] The last 9-carat gold belt was won outright by Henry Cooper in 1959. Belts made from 1945 are composed of hallmarked silver and the laurel-leaf border has the thistle, daffodil and shamrock added to the extant rose to represent the four national flowers of the UK.[16] The belt was machine-made for a short time in the 1970s before the BBBofC decided to have it hand-made again, passing the contract to Fattorini and Sons, who continue to make the belts as of 2019. Each belt costs £14,000.[16]

First holders of the BBBofC Lonsdale Belt
Champion Reign Began Defeated Weight class
Scotland Benny Lynch 16 September 1936 Pat Palmer[18] Flyweight
Scotland Johnny McGrory 24 September 1936 Nel Tarleton[19] Featherweight
England Jimmy Walsh 19 October 1936 Harry Mizler[20] Lightweight
England Jock McAvoy 27 April 1937 Eddie Phillips[21] Light-heavyweight
England Johnny King 31 May 1937 Jackie Brown[22] Bantamweight
Wales Tommy Farr 15 March 1937 Ben Foord[8] Heavyweight
England Jock McAvoy 25 October 1937 Jack Hyams[21] Middleweight
Scotland Jake Kilrain 21 February 1938 Jack Lord[23] Welterweight

Changes[edit]

In 1987, the BBBofC decided to award only one belt to any boxer in each division. A boxer can, however, win belts outright in different weight classes.[24]

On 1 September 1999 the BBBofC changed the criteria for winning a belt outright; boxers must now win four—rather than three—championship contests in the same weight division. The rule also stipulates that one of the four wins must be a mandatory contest. The BBBofC general secretary John Morris cited the rising costs of making the belts as the chief reason for the rule change.[25]

The BBBofC introduced the Lonsdale Badge in 2013; it is worn by outright winners. According to a Eurosport report:[26]




Donations and auctions[edit]

The Lonsdale belt won by Bombardier Billy Wells in 1911 is now kept at the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich, London, and is not on display to the general public.[27] Johnny Brown's Lonsdale Belt was donated to the Museum of London in 2010.[28] In November 2000 the belt awarded to Randy Turpin in 1956 was auctioned for £23,000 while in September 2011, the belt won by the welterweight Jack Hood in 1926 fetched £36,000. Hood, who died in 1992, had displayed his belt above the bar at the Bell public house, of which he was the licensee, in Tanworth-in-Arden .[29]

In 1993, Henry Cooper sold all three of his belts for £42,000 after losing heavily on the Lloyd's insurance market.[30] One of the belts—the last one made of gold—was sold for £22,000. The others sold for £10,000 each. Cooper was expecting £70,000 for the sale but was content they were all sold together.[30]

Theft[edit]

The belts have attracted targeted theft over the years. The first recorded in the media was Don Cockell's Lonsdale belt, which was stolen in 1952 from a glass cabinet at his home in London while he was out dancing. He did not own the £15,000 belt at the time, needing one more victory.[31] In 2007, after attending a training camp, Bobby Vanzie returned to his home to Bradford and discovered his belt had been stolen. Tara promoter Jack Doughty said in the Manchester Evening News: "This is the best belt a boxer can win. It is better than those for world title fights, gold plated with a portrait of Lord Lonsdale in the middle."[32]

Pat McAteer's belt was stolen from his son's home at Annapolis, Maryland, in 2012.[33] The boxer's son, also named Pat, told the Liverpool Echo that since his father’s death he has only had the belt out once to show his nine-year-old nephew Will. "Will was like ‘wow’ when he saw ‘Pop Pop’s’ belt. He was going to inherit the belt from me and he was to pass it to his son and so on, so it would stay in the McAteer family."[33] Jack Petersen's Lonsdale belt was stolen from his son's home in Burnham, Buckinghamshire in 2013. His son Robert, managing director of Cardiff PR firm Petersens, told Wales Online: "It’s the  family’s crown jewels, a magnificent looking piece of art. It  would be a terrible shame if it  was melted down."[34]


Current holders of the BBBofC Lonsdale Belt[edit]

Champion Reign began Defeated Weight class
Wales Andrew Selby 14 May 2016 Louis Norman[35] Flyweight
vacant
Super Flyweight
ScotlandUkashir Farooq 27 September 2018 Jamie Wilson[36] Bantamweight
EnglandBrad Foster 8 March 2019 Josh Wale[37] Super Bantamweight
England Ryan Walsh 26 September 2015 Samir Mouneimne[38] Featherweight
England Sam Bowen 14 April 2018 Maxi Hughes[39] Super Featherweight
vacant
Lightweight
EnglandRobbie Davies Jr 13 October 2018 Glenn Foot[40] Light Welterweight
WalesChris Jenkins 20 October 2018 Johnny Garton[41] Welterweight
vacant
Super welterweight
EnglandTed Cheeseman 27 October 2018 Asinia Byfield[42] Light Middleweight
WalesLiam Williams 22 December 2018 Mark Heffron[43] Middleweight
EnglandZach Parker 3 November 2018 Darryll Williams[44] Super Middleweight
England Joshua Buatsi 23 March 2019 Liam Conroy[45] Light Heavyweight
EnglandLawrence Okolie 22 September 2018 Matty Askin[46] Cruiserweight
vacant
Heavyweight

This table is updated periodically using the British Boxing Board of Control Website[47]

Outright winners of Lonsdale belt[edit]

Key[edit]

This is a Statue of Jim Driscoll, who is the first ever winner of the Lonsdale belt
A statue of Jim Driscoll, first ever winner of the Lonsdale Belt, in Cardiff
Pat O'Keeffe. The first middleweight to win the Lonsdale belt. 1918.
Pat O'Keeffe was the first middleweight to win the Lonsdale Belt, in 1918.
*** Outright winner of 3 belts
** Outright winner of 2 belts
Henry Cooper in 1969. The only man to have ever won 3 lonsdale belts outright.
Henry Cooper is the only man to have ever won three Lonsdale Belts outright.
Lloyd Honeyghan. Went on to reign as the undisputed welterweight champion from 1986 to 1987; and held the WBC, Ring magazine and lineal welterweight titles twice between 1986 and 1989
Lloyd Honeyghan went on to reign as the undisputed welterweight champion from 1986 to 1987 and held the WBC, Ring magazine and lineal welterweight titles twice between 1986 and 1989.
Lennox Lewis. He went on to become a three-time world heavyweight champion, a two-time lineal champion, and remains the last heavyweight to hold the undisputed title.
Lennox Lewis went on to become a three-time world heavyweight champion, a two-time lineal champion, and remains the last heavyweight to hold the undisputed title.
Michael Gomez. Competed from 1995 to 2009. He was born to an Irish Traveller family in Longford, County Longford, Ireland
Michael Gomez competed from 1995 to 2009. He was born to an Irish Traveller family in Longford, County Longford, Ireland
Jamie Moore. Survived a murder attempt in Spain, 2014[1]
Jamie Moore survived a murder attempt in Spain in 2014[48]
Carl Martin Froch, MBE is a British former professional boxer who competed from 2002 to 2014, and has since worked as a boxing analyst and commentator for Sky Sports.
Carl Froch competed from 2002 to 2014, and has since worked as a boxing analyst and commentator for Sky Sports.
Lee Selby. As of February 2019, Selby is ranked as the world's sixth best active lightweight by BoxRec.
As of February 2019, Lee Selby was ranked as the world's fourth best active lightweight by BoxRec.[49]


Champion Weight class Year achieved
Wales Jim Driscoll Featherweight 1910[50]
England Digger Stanley Bantamweight 1912[51]
Wales Freddie Welsh Lightweight 1912[52]
England Bombardier Billy Wells Heavyweight 1913[53]
Wales Johnny Basham Welterweight 1915[54]
England Joe Fox Bantamweight 1917[55]
Wales Jimmy Wilde Flyweight 1917[56]
Scotland Tancy Lee Featherweight 1917[57]
England Dick Smith Light-heavyweight 1918[58]
England Pat O'Keeffe Middleweight 1918[59]
Scotland Jim Higgins Bantamweight 1921[60]
England Johnny Brown Bantamweight 1925[61]
England Jack Hood Welterweight 1926[62]
England Len Harvey Middleweight 1930[63]
England Johnny Cuthbert Featherweight 1930[64]
England Jackie Brown Flyweight 1932[64]
England Dick Corbett Bantamweight 1934[65]
EnglandNel Tarleton** Featherweight 1934[66]
England Jock McAvoy Middleweight 1935[64]
Wales Jack Petersen Heavyweight 1935[67]
England Johnny King Bantamweight 1937[64]
England Eric Boon Lightweight 1939[68]
England Ernie Roderick Welterweight 1941[69]
Scotland Jackie Paterson Flyweight 1943[70]
England Nel Tarleton** Featherweight 1945[71]
England Billy Thompson Lightweight 1950[72]
England Ronnie Clayton** Featherweight 1950[73]
Scotland Peter Keenan** Bantamweight 1951[74]
England Ronnie Clayton** Featherweight 1953[75]
England Terry Allen Flyweight 1953[76]
England Wally thom Welterweight 1954[77]
England Randolph Turpin Light-heavyweight 1956[78]
England Joe Lucy Lightweight 1956[79]
Scotland Peter Keenan** Bantamweight 1957[80]
England Pat McAteer Middleweight 1957[81]
Scotland Charlie Hill Featherweight 1958[82]
England Terry Downes Middleweight 1960[83]
Wales Brian Curvis** Welterweight 1961[84]
England Henry Cooper *** Heavyweight 1961[85]
Northern Ireland Freddie Gilroy Bantamweight 1962[86]
Wales Howard Winstone** Featherweight 1962[87]
Wales Howard Winstone** Featherweight 1963[88]
Scotland Chic Calderwood Light-heavyweight 1963[89]
Wales Brian Curvis** Welterweight 1964[90]
England Henry Cooper *** Heavyweight 1964[91]
Scotland Walter McGowan Flyweight 1966[92]
England Maurice Cullen Lightweight 1966[93]
England Henry Cooper *** Heavyweight 1967[27]
England Johnny Pritchett Middleweight 1967[94]
England Alan Rudkin Bantamweight 1969[95]
England Jimmy Anderson Super-featherweight 1969[96]
England Ralph Charles Welterweight 1971[97]
Scotland Ken Buchanan Lightweight 1973[98]
Scotland John McCluskey Flyweight 1974[99]
Scotland Evan Armstrong Featherweight 1974[100]
England Chris Finnegan Light-heavyweight 1975[101]
England Joey Singleton Super-lightweight 1975[102]
England Alan Minter Middleweight 1976[103]
England Maurice Hope Super-welterweight 1976[104]
Scotland Jim Watt Lightweight 1977[105]
England Jimmy Batten Super-welterweight 1978[106]
Jamaica Bunny Johnson Light-heavyweight 1979[107]
England Colin Powers Super-lightweight 1979[108]
Wales Johnny Owen Bantamweight 1979[109]
Saint Kitts and Nevis Pat Thomas Super-welterweight 1979[110]
England Kevin Finnegan Middleweight 1979[111]
JamaicaEngland Clinton McKenzie** Light-welterweight 1979[112]
England Pat Cowdell Featherweight 1980[113]
Saint Kitts and NevisEngland Roy Gumbs Middleweight 1982[114]
CuraçaoEnglandTom Collins Light-heavyweight 1983[115]
GuyanaEngland Dennis Andries Light-heavyweight 1984[116]
England George Feeney Lightweight 1984[117]
Northern Ireland Hugh Russell Bantamweight 1985[118]
England Cohn Jones Welterweight 1985[119]
JamaicaEngland Lloyd Honeyghan Welterweight 1985[120]
England Prince Rodney Super-welterweight 1985[121]
England Tony Willis Lightweight 1986[122]
Wales Robert Dickie Featherweight 1986[123]
JamaicaEngland Clinton McKenzie** Light-welterweight 1987[124]
JamaicaEngland Kirkland Laing Welterweight 1987[125]
England Lloyd Christie Super-lightweight 1987[126]
TunisiaEngland Charlie Magri Flyweight 1987[127]
England Tony Sibson Middleweight 1987[128]
England Horace Notice Heavyweight 1987[129]
England Herol Graham Middleweight 1988[130]
England Tony Wilson Light-heavyweight 1989[131]
Scotland Pat Clinton Flyweight 1989[132]
England Billy Hardy Bantamweight 1989[133]
England Paul Hodkinson Featherweight 1989[134]
England Johnny Nelson Cruiserweight 1990[135]
England Colin McMillan Featherweight 1991[136]
England John Doherty Super-featherweight 1991[137]
England Carl Crook Lightweight 1991[138]
England Andy Holligan Super-lightweight 1992[126]
Wales Robbie Regan Flyweight 1992[139]
EnglandCanada Lennox Lewis Heavyweight 1992[140]
England Andy Till Super-welterweight 1993[141]
England Crawford Ashley Light-heavyweight 1994[142]
England Sean Murphy Featherweight 1993[143]
England Neville Brown Middleweight 1994[144]
Scotland Drew Docherty Bantamweight 1994[145]
GhanaEngland Francis Ampofo Flyweight 1994[146]
England Billy Schwer Lightweight 1994[147]
England Robert McCracken Super-welterweight 1995[148]
England Ross Hale Super-lightweight 1995[149]
Northern Ireland Sam Storey Super-middleweight 1995[150]
England Delroy Bryan Welterweight 1995[151]
England Michael Ayers Lightweight 1995[152]
Wales Floyd Hazard Super-featherweight 1995[153]
England Terry Dunstan Cruiserweight 1996[154]
England Richie Wenton Super-bantamweight 1996[155]
England Ryan Rhodes Super-welterweight 1997[156]
England Paul Ingle Featherweight 1997[157]
England Ady Lewis Flyweight 1997[158]
England Ryan Rhodes Welterweight 1997[159]
England Geoff McCreesh Welterweight 1998[160]
England Jon Jo Irwin Featherweight 1998[161]
England Charles Shepherd Super-featherweight 1998[162]
England Michael Brodie Super-bantamweight 1998[163]
England David Starie Super-middleweight 1999[164]
England Ensley Bingham Super-welterweight 1999[165]
Republic of Ireland Derek Roche Welterweight 1999[166]
England Julius Francis Super-welterweight 1999[167]
Republic of Ireland Michael Gomez Super-featherweight 2000[168]
England Bobby Vanzie Lightweight 2000[169]
JamaicaEngland Bruce Scott Cruiserweight 2001[170]
England Nicky Booth Bantamweight 2001[171]
England Michael Alldis Super-bantamweight 2002[172]
England Danny Williams Heavyweight 2002[173]
Guyana Howard Eastman Middleweight 2003[174]
Northern Ireland Neil Sinclair Welterweight 2003[175]
England Mark Hobson Cruiserweight 2004[176]
England David Barnes Welterweight 2004[177]
England Dazzo Williams Featherweight 2004[178]
England Jamie Moore Super-welterweight 2005[179]
England Junior Witter Super-lightweight 2005[180]
England Michael Hunter Super-bantamweight 2005[181]
England Matt Skelton Heavyweight 2005[182]
England Scott Dann Middleweight 2005[183]
Scotland Alex Arthur Super-featherweight 2005[184]
England Graham Earl Lightweight 2005[185]
England Carl Froch Super-middleweight 2006[186]
England Carl Johanneson Super-featherweight 2007[187]
ZimbabweEngland Ian Napa Bantamweight 2008[188]
England Kell Brook Welterweight 2009[189]
England Jason Booth Super-bantamweight 2009[190]
England John Murray Lightweight 2010[191]
Scotland John Simpson Featherweight 2010[192]
England Stuart Hall Bantamweight 2011[193]
England Brian Rose Super-welterweight 2012[194]
Wales Lee Selby Featherweight 2013[195]
England Frankie Gavin Welterweight 2013[196]
England Billy Joe Saunders Middleweight 2013[197]
England Jon-Lewis Dickinson Cruiserweight 2014[198]
England Bradley Skeete Welterweight 2016[199]
England Martin J. Ward Super-featherweight 2017[200]
England Ryan Walsh Featherweight 2017[201]
England Lewis Ritson Lightweight 2018[202]

See also[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Harding, John (1994). Lonsdale's Belt: The Story of Boxing's Greatest Prize. London: Robson Books. ISBN 978-0-86051-846-4.
  • Golesworthy, Maurice (1988). Encyclopaedia of Boxing (Eighth Edition), Robert Hale Limited, ISBN 0-7090-3323-0

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