A Day on the boxing booth with Jeff Shaw
Starting my professional boxing career on the bottom rung of the ladder, I was training under Billy Tansey; Billy was a world rated bantam back in the 1930’s.
Back in the 1960’s I was taking my first steps into the boxing world learning my trade at Marchant’s professional boxing gymnasium in the back streets of Salford. Billy and Albert Marchant came from a well known boxing family in Salford and had brought an American style of boxing to the U.K. after a successful run of promotions in the U.S.
Ex – boxer Matt Moran was now a successful boxing booth promoter. Matt was also a natural comedian and a very funny man, he arrived in the gym one night asking if any Salford boxers wanted to take part in a boxing booth show he was staging at the nearby Littleton road fair, the show was starting two days later and he needed volunteers.
At that time I still didn’t have my boxing licence as I was waiting for approval from the Boxing Board of control, I also had no previous amateur experience to speak of so it was considered this would be great way of putting what I had learnt at Marchant’s gym into practice, it would also be a great experience to fight in front of a real crowd against somebody I didn’t know, I was raring to go!
I arrived at the fair in Salford on a borrowed 50cc motorcycle with my 12 year old kid brother Derek on the back, Derek was there to mop my brow if things didn’t go well, I had a pair of pumps on and when the time came I would strip off my shirt, keep my trousers on and be ready for action!
Matt would put on two shows a day, one in the afternoon and one in the evening, I was scheduled to take part in the afternoon show. The plan was for me to mingle with the crowd and when the time came i.e. the crowd were screaming for a fight I would put my hand up and volunteer to fight on the booth against one of Matt’s fighters.
The booth had a stage at the front and Matt Moran would start with his spiel whilst a young black lad was paraded back and forth along the stage, Matt hollowed into his tin microphone that this young man was the light heavyweight champion of Barbados and had just arrived at the these Salford shores with the sole intention of cleaning up the light heavyweight division before moving on to a world title challenge in the U.S.A. very soon. This was my moment, the fight was sold and the crowd were hungry for a fight, up went my hand and the fight was made.
Unbeknown to most of that crowd the boy from Barbados was really called Jack and had made the short journey down from Bolton that very morning, just like me, he was part of the show. I knew Jack well and we had sparred many times at Marchant’s before now and both of us held our own with the other, the fight would be a gee up as we call it, each of us would go through the motions and try to pull our punches a little, our prize for this would be £5 each for three, three minute rounds! All went well and we earned our prize, no knockouts, no injuries, just honest efforts from me and Jack and the crowed enjoyed it too.