Born in West Ham, Lawless started his coaching and management career in 1957 after his National Service, and formed a close friendship with Norman Giller, who was then Sports Editor of the local Stratford Express newspaper. Lawless was based at the Royal Oak gym in the Canning Town district of London. Giller was his publicist throughout his career.
His early stable of local boxers included former London amateurs such as Stan Kennedy, Johnny Caiger, Jimmy Tibbs, Silvester Mittee and Jimmy Anderson. He hired George Wiggs and Frank Black as his training assistants, both of whom stayed with him for more than ten years. Tibbs later rejoined Lawless as a trainer, as did George Francis, who formed a winning team with Frank Bruno.
He was associated with promoters Mickey Duff, Jarvis Astaire, Harry Levene, and Mike Barrett, who effectively controlled British boxing. The team dealt primarily with the BBC, which gave rise to the famous relationship between Frank Bruno and the commentator Harry Carpenter, but they were ousted during the late 1980s by Frank Warren, who initially had the support of ITV.
Famous for looking after his fighters like a father rather than a manager, Lawless often fell out with matchmaker Mickey Duff because he did not want to expose his boxers to unnecessary dangers. Duff stated in his autobiography that Lawless was always asking for opponents who would defend but not attack! While living in retirement in Marbella with his wife of more than 50 years Sylvia, Lawless often said he was happy to be remembered as the manager who did not want his boxers hurt.
Jim Watt, one of six Lawless-trained-and-managed boxers who went on to win world titles (including Frank Bruno, and Joe Calzaghe under different management), wrote in his autobiography, Watt's My Name:
|“||Terry is that rare breed of manager who treats his boxers like sons rather than fighters. He gives 100 per cent and demands the same in return. If it were not for him, I would not have got near winning a world title. He revitalized my career.||”|
He was married to his wife Sylvia for 53 years and they had two children, Lorraine and Steven.
Among the boxers Lawless managed/trained were:
- Jimmy Tibbs
- Peter Boddington
- Phil Watford
- Tommy Rix
- Brian Brazier
- Johnny Caiger
- John L. Gardner
- Frank Bruno (WBC Heavyweight champion) - a title won under the guidance of Frank Warren
- Charlie Magri (WBC Flyweight champion)
- Maurice Hope (WBC Light Middleweight champion)
- John H. Stracey (WBC Welterweight champion)
- Jim Watt (WBC Lightweight champion)
- Joe Calzaghe (WBO, WBA & WBC Super Middleweight champion, but not until he had moved on from the management of Duff and Lawless)
- Jim McDonnell (EBU Featherweight champion)
- Derek Angol (Commonwealth Cruiserweight champion)
- Mark Kaylor (British and Commonwealth middleweight champion)
- Gary Mason (British and Commonwealth heavyweight champion)
- Neville Meade (British and Commonwealth heavyweight champion)
- Mo Hussein (Commonwealth Lightweight champion)
- Jimmy Batten (British Light Middleweight champion)
- Tony Wilson (British Light-Heavyweight champion
- John Graham (Light heavyweight)
- Peter Bradley (Lightweight)
- Enzo: King maker of the Valleys' Kronk mirror.co.uk Sport
- Punch drunk New Statesman 24 January 2000
- ITV Can Lead Boxing Back Into Big Time buzzle.com
- [dead link]
- Jim Watt wins world lightweight title 1979 BBC
- Joe Calzaghe Encyclopædia Britannica
- Joe Calzaghe talkboxong.co.uk
- Jimmy Batten BoxingNews
- Tony Wilson Biography