Heavyweight Anecdotes of One Kind or Another

Heavyweight boxer Henry Cooper is driving his Ford Cortina Mk 1 down Ealing Broadway one day accompanied by his no less hulking brother George, who fought as Jim Cooper until retiring from the ring in 1964, and as he brings the car to a halt at a set of traffic lights it’s struck from behind by a Ford Consul which careers into it with an almighty bang.

The brothers Cooper jump out as one man and, perceiving the extent of the damage caused to the back end of their motor, turn instinctively on the driver of the other car and proceed to berate him in respect of his driving ability.

This guy, too, gets out of his car and measures up to them – all 4 foot 11 inches of him! Undeterred and unflinching, despite the fact that his stature might suggest a propensity towards having sand kicked in his face on a regular basis, he gives them as good as he gets:

‘Just ’cause there’s two of yers!’ he taunts them, his response taking the steam out of the situation as the pugilistic twosome fall about, laughing.

*

Long, long ago in the days of steam TV, when Eamonn Andrews was the token Irishman with the BBC and Cassius Clay was not yet known as Mohammed Ali, the Dublin jackeen was given the job of interviewing the Louisville Lip for the benefit of the nation.

Unfortunately, as was ever the way with British TV presenters, who imagine they are themselves the star turn no matter whom they are interviewing (Parkinson in particular – the best friend George Best never had; the Wheedling Wogan Man, the Pushily Pedantic Paxman et al. so it is with Eamonn Andrews, too – interrupting Cassius Clay’s flow at one point in order to tell him: ‘I used to box, you know!’ (Tantamount, you may think, to trying to impress Enrico Caruso with the sad fact that you used to sing in the bath.)

Whereupon, quite unfazed by the cheek of it, Clay comes right back at Andrews and asks him point blank: ‘Whadd-ya box, man? Oranges????

*

In those same days of steam television there was a television personality of this same type, a former teacher and Liverpudlian to boot, Peter Delaney by name.

(Whatever happened to him, I wonder.)

One night this same Peter Delaney is interviewing the uncouth – indeed, only marginally articulate London bruiser, Terry Downes, and happens to ask him how he got started in the fight game.

Downes’ response is that, if truth be told, he began his fighting career in the playground at school.

‘Oh, come on, Terry,’ Delaney chides him. ‘We’ve all had our experiences of fighting in the playground. But what is it, would you say, that took your fight career beyond that point?’

‘Well,’ sniffs Downes, a smug look crossing his physog, ‘That’s where you sort the (sniff) men from the boys, innit?’ – and sniffs again.

‘Ah! Terry, you’re a hard man to tie down,’ says Peter Delaney at his most charmingly urbane. ‘So suppose I put it to you like this . . . What exactly was it, would you say, that caused you boys to carry on fighting?’

*

‘Rugby player Gareth Edwards, in celebration mode after the game, arrives at the bus station in Merthyr Tydfil long after midnight only to find the last bus has gone. Such is the man’s fame, however, and the regard in which he is held that Dai the Bus Inspector tells Ivor the Driver to fetch a bus round to take Mr Edwards home.

But when Ivor the Driver starts up a Seddon single-decker and makes as if to drive out of the depot with the great man aboard, Dai the Inspector flags him down with the accompanying suggestion that he had best take a Daimler double-decker instead on the grounds that: ‘Mr Edwards may want to smoke.’

*

[Reproduced with the consent of Pauline, a relative of mine.]

Pauline, a relative of mine is a staff nurse of many years’ experience. This is a gal who is capable of organising a hospital wing, no less. Which is, of course, why, as a Territorial Army reservist for many years, too, she has only recently returned from a second tour of duty in Afghanistan. Whereupon she made the local BBC News one night recently, though not with the story that follows – which is nothing short of a scoop for Aneeta Sundararaj’s How to Tell a Great Story!

Because it was on this latter tour of duty that Pauline had the nerve to invite a VIP visitor to consent to being photographed alongside her good self (see photo: top) and a colleague (right) from the American M.A.S.H unit. Obviously no stranger to the common touch that once upon a time endeared his mother to us, said VIP willingly agreed.

No wedding invitation has subsequently materialised. One has to draw the line somewhere, I suppose. As, indeed, did Pauline’s CO, indicating by means of a blistering earful delivered in private that photographic invitations to indigenous VIPs are verboten, ergo scarcer than sightings of Osama Bin Laden!

Except in How to Tell a Great Story website – sah!


Bill Keeth’s books, Every Street in Manchester ISBN 1859880649 & Write It Self-Publish It Sell It ISBN 97809558863 are available from Amazon and all good book shops. Bill can also be contacted via his website, http://www.novelnovella.com.

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