Name: Al Hutt
Alias: Al Hut
Birth Name: Albert Hut
Nationality: United Kingdom
Birthplace: Mandalay, Burma
Hometown: Liverpool, Merseyside, United Kingdom
One of the most interesting former fighters of the Merseyside Former Boxers’ Association was Al Hutt of Burma. Born in Mandalay in 1920s his experiences of growing up in Burma and his subsequent boxing career make for a fascinating story. From a very young age all Al’s ambition in life was to become a boxer and when he was given the opportunity to box at school he was able to show he was good at it. As Burma had a very strong British influence at the time it was only natural that boxing would play a prominent part in sports education at school. As a young boy Al won the national six-stone title and then added the light-flyweight title, he also made the final of the flyweight championship. He was around 12 or 13 years of age at this time and a few years later he felt that if he was going to continue with his ring career then maybe he should consider fighting for money.
He had a few words with his manager, Frank D’Vauz, before joining the Luna Park Boxing Booth, which was managed by an Australian, Wally Banvard. Part of his contract with Banvard stipulated that all monies earned by Al, apart from expenses for bed and board, would go to his former manager. To make extra money Hutt would also operate a gambling stall that was within the boxing booth complex. Al remembered that there were a further six boxers on the booth at that time. He also remembered how he would often see potential opponents weighing him up to see if they fancied their chances against him. If they felt that they could beat him they would go to the Banvard and request that they be able to challenge Al. In such a situation he was obliged to close his stall and get ready to take-on the opponent.
OnBanvard’s booths there were no such things as ‘Gee’ fights, were two members of the booth would fight each other if no challengers were available. Every fight was, therefore, a full-blown affair. Al was with the booth for around four years and the experience gained proved of enormous assistance in honing his ring skills. However, it also proved a disaster in his subsequent professional career. In the booths there was no such thing as a neutral corner and during his licensed professional bouts Al would often get disqualified for not going to a neutral corner when he knocked an opponent down. In the booths, of course, it was every man for himself with no such instruction from the referee.
When he left the booth, Al returned to his original manager and began boxing all over Burma until the outbreak of the Second World War when he joined-up with the Royal Burmese Navy.
Al’s all-action style of fighting earned him the nickname of ‘The Burmese Black Panther’. His early career was successful enabling him to fight his way through the ranks until he earned a title contest against another Burmese fighter by the name of Francis Aposto. The Aposto fight proved to be a hard fought contest but, after ten hard fought rounds, Al was declared the winner and the new champion of Burma. as champion Al also received the Nagim Walla championship belt, presented by Nagim Walla, a rich businessman with a keen interest in boxing. According to Al the belt was a beautiful piece of work which resembled the British Lonsdale Belt and was made of solid silver. Hutt, was in fact, the first boxer to win this Belt and the only one to have his name inscribed on it. After his victory Al placed the belt with an English firm in Rangoon for safe-keeping, but following the Japanese invasion of Burma he never saw the belt again.
On 23 December 1941, when the Japanese began their bombardment of Rangoon, Al returned to the navy. Whilst in the navy he managed to keep up his boxing with Inter Service bouts. His thoughts were obviously focused on how his family were doing in respect of the bombardment. He sought permission from his superior officer to go and check on his family, but permission was refused whereupon Al saluted his superior then returned to his billet where he changed into civilian clothes, picked up a rifle and a belt of cartridges, and then made his way home. Sadly, he never found nor heard of any trace of his family. Eventually, he met up with a group of young Burmese men whom he knew, and who had also been forced from their homes by the Japanese. The group numbering around 25 lived off the jungle and made up their minds that they would kill any Japanese they came across. They covered about five miles a day, and eventually the group reached Calcutta, after helping a group of Gurkhas fight a battle against a Japanese company on the way.
While in Calcutta, as a form of relaxation, Al went to a local cinema but when the lights went up, he heard a voice say that he was under arrest. He had found himself sitting next to a British Petty Officer from his base in Rangoon. Subsequently, Al was returned to his unit and served two months in the “Glass House” for deserting. Upon his release Al got employment as a greaser on board a merchant ship and after a circuitous route via Egypt and the USA found himself at Tilbury docks. Once in this country Al had only one thought in mind, and that was to find his way to Liverpool. He had heard of Nel Tarleton and other famous fighters of that time, and he felt that he would like to try and put his fighting experience to good use in British boxing rings. He found lodgings in Canning Street, and then set about finding himself a manager. He chose Wally Evans, and he began fighting all over the country, before leaving Evans and signing with Peter Banks. Moreover, he quickly settled in Liverpool and met a local girl whom he subsequently married.
Al soon gained a reputation as a good fighter and began meeting top class boxers, including Jimmy Warnock and Ike Weir, two of Northern Ireland’s top boxers. Al knocked out Weir in the first round, and he also beat Jackie Bryce, Frank Tierney and Eddie Fitzsimmons.
One of Al’s bitterest memories concerned a time when he was boxing at the Birkenhead Drill Hall. Al’s wife, Pat, was attending the contest, but she was unable to find a seat near to Al’s corner and she was forced to sit near to his opponent’s corner, where she overheard a conversation between two men and Al’s manager. The three men were conspiring to ensure that Hutt would not be allowed to win his contest. On hearing this Al was not keen to go through with the contest, but he did so and was disqualified in the seventh round. This caused Al to become disillusioned with boxing and he retired from the ring shortly afterwards. Despite his repeated disqualifications Al Hutt’s all-action style of fighting made him a great favourite with theLiverpool Stadium fight crowds. Upon retirement, and following the formation of the Merseyside Former Boxers Association, Al became one of its most popular members and remained so until his death some years ago.