Billy Thompson wished to verify his dad would by no means must go down a mine once more and lit up the British battle recreation within the gloomy post-war years, writes Alex Daley
IN the aftermath of World War II, the British public craved pleasure and leisure like by no means earlier than. After six years of trauma and privation, they flocked to bounce halls, cinemas and sporting stadia with feverish delight, and boxing – then a sport of the lots – was among the many largest attracts.
The fighters who pulled within the crowds – then as now – have been those who promised color and thrills. And in late Nineteen Forties Britain the light-weight division boasted a boxer whose performances provided each. Billy Thompson was a dynamic, unyielding pressure-fighter who hardly ever took a backward step. Turning professional within the yr the conflict ended, 1945, for battle followers he was the right antidote to the gloom that had enveloped Britain for thus lengthy.
Born in New Silksworth, Sunderland, in 1925, Billy moved to Thurnscoe, close to Rotherham, along with his household at age 5. As a schoolboy boxer he gained the Yorkshire colleges’ title two years operating and when he left faculty to work at Hickleton Maine Colliery like his father, he discovered he may practice within the colliery’s newly constructed gymnasium.
He lied about his age – claiming he was 17 fairly than 16 – to enter the Northern Counties senior flyweight championship and defeated a string of older opponents to take the title. In 1943, he gained the Northern Counties featherweight crown, and in 1944 set the seal on his newbie fame by profitable the ABA light-weight title. He deliberate to defend his crown in 1945 however was saved out of the championship by an ear damage.
The stocky, curly-haired Yorkshireman could have stayed within the amateurs longer, however his father had been pensioned off from the pits after creating silicosis and Billy wanted to help the household. There was discuss of his father returning to coal-mining after two or three years’ recuperation, however Billy aimed to verify his dad would by no means must go down a mine once more.
Thompson turned professional with the younger, up-and-coming London-based supervisor Jarvis Astaire, and crammed 34 fights into his first two years within the paid ranks. Billy was 30-2-1 when he confronted Stan Hawthorne of North Shields at Anfield in October 1947 for the vacant British light-weight title.
The battle was a slaughter, Billy attacking the North Shields man with unbridled ferocity from the opening bell. Somehow Hawthorne survived a number of knockdowns to final into the third spherical when referee Peter Muir stepped in. Thompson had claimed the crown in underneath seven minutes.
Billy held the title for just below 4 years, seeing off challenges from Harry Hughes of Wishaw and Bermondsey’s Tommy McGovern. Thompson boxed brilliantly to seize the European crown from Italy’s Roberto Proietti in February 1948 and retained it in opposition to Pierre Montane (France), Josef Preys (Belgium) and Hughes, earlier than dropping the title on a low blow disqualification to Kid Dussart of Belgium in July 1949.
During his rise to the highest Billy had appeared sensational, however after profitable his titles his type grew to become erratic and he struggled to make light-weight. By 1951, Thompson was combating as a full-fledged welter, however boiled all the way down to light-weight for an additional defence in opposition to McGovern. A pale, weight-drained ghost of the Billy Thompson the boxing world knew was floored by the primary actual punch of the battle and KO’d inside 45 seconds. After a couple of extra bouts at welterweight, Billy retired at age 27. He had been the primary post-war champion to win a Lonsdale Belt outright and, extra importantly maybe, was capable of purchase his household a farm in Thurnscoe along with his ring earnings.
Thompson died in January 2009, aged 83. At the funeral his cherished Lonsdale Belt was draped throughout the coffin as a becoming reminder of his achievements.