The following is an account of a story sent into us that is perhaps indicative of the rich history that boxing is steeped in, and how one British forces officer found himself in a rather unexpected boxing match one day.
National Service during the late 1940s
One morning somewhere in Germany, my dad (Private Eric Collier (80 Wing Royal Signals Airborne)) was eating breakfast in the mess. His Captain (McIntyre – brother of Arthur the Surrey and England wicket-keeper in Cricket) sat down opposite my dad and began to stare at him for what seemed like ages.
My dad found this rather disconcerting, so asked the Captain politely if he could help him in any way. The following conversation ensued.
Captain McIntyre: “Private Collier, has anyone told you that you look like Peter Kane (Liverpool, World Flyweight Champion 1938-39)?”
(Private Collier nearly chokes on his food!)
Private Collier: “You must be joking Sir!! I look nothing like him.”
Captain McIntyre: “Honestly, Private Collier, you look like Peter Kane”
Private Collier: “You are mistaken Sir.”
Captain McIntyre: “Have you ever considered taking up boxing?”
Private Collier: “Definitely not sir.”
Captain McIntyre: “That’s a shame, the Divisional boxing team is a man down, so I’ve put your name down as a replacement. You won’t have any difficulty with your opponent, he’s not very good!”
Private Collier: “At the risk of sounding insubordinate Sir, would you find someone else please. I’ve never boxed in my life.”
Captain McIntyre: “Sorry Private Collier, I can’t, both teams have been submitted. Anyway, now’s your chance.”
Private Collier: “Who am I fighting Sir?”
Captain McIntyre: “I can’t remember his name Private Collier; however as I have said, he’s not very good.”
(Captain McIntyre gets up to leave and casually mentions…)
Captain McIntyre: “Oh by the way, Private Collier, I forgot to tell you the fight’s this afternoon at 15:00 hours in the gym.”
(Private Collier pushes his plate aside and descends into a deep depression).
15:00 Hours In The Gym
The gym is packed to the rafters for the inter-Divisional match.
Dad, weighing barely 9 and a half stone dripping wet is first in the ring. Then his opponent (the Regimental Light Heavyweight Champion) appears. Captain McIntyre, who is acting as one of my dad’s seconds notices the look of horror and panic in my dad’s face.
In an effort to calm him down the Captain apologises for not mentioning the fact that it was a catchweight contest. As you can appreciate my dad was battered from pillar to post; and by some miracle he survived the first round.
Captain McIntyre: “Well done Private Collier, you are doing brilliantly. There’s only six minutes left (2×3 minute round).”
Private Collier completely stuffed tries to reply; however the Captain tells him to conserve his energy. The bell rings for the start of the second round.
Private Collier then decided to be first to the punch. With what little energy he had left, he hurtles off his stool and promptly knees his opponent in the nuts.
The Regimental Champion collapses in a heap on the canvas, crying out in pain, and Pandemonium ensues. The referee immediately disqualifies him.
Captain McIntyre is also very upset, in fact he is furious and concludes: “What the f**k was that about Collier (notice he didn’t say Private)? You are a disgrace to the Regiment. You are on a charge!”
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