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Billy McDonald



Billy McDonald

 Country    United Kingdom
Global Id  205155   
Birthplace Liverpool,  England
Division   Lightweight
Born       1924-01-01

   Billy McDonald was an all action lightweight who was always popular in Liverpool. He joined the old Unity Boys Club in Upper Parliament Street, Liverpool, before moving to the  Kensington ABC. He sparred Terry Allen during the Second World War whilst both boxers served in the Middle East .When he left the service in 1947 he immediately turned pro. He had a total of 28 paid  contests, winning 18 and losing only seven. The Ex-Liverpool pro Gerry McNally stated that a six-rounder between Billy and Billy Barton was the best fight he'd ever seen at the Stadium. After retiring Billy stayed in the game as first a trainer with his old Kensington  club and later a manager. Amongst those he trained in their early careers were John Conteh  and Harry Scott. Billy died after collapsing at a boxing show at the old Holiday Inn in 1985.


the Liverpool Echo 16 February 1974.


`Pet Shop' boy Billy was a whippet in the ring

At the 13 stone plus that he scales these days, it is hard to visualise the Liverpool boxing manager Billy McDonald as a speedy whippet-like lightweight. Yet that is what he was in the early post-war years when his all foam style earned him many good victories and saw him through his first contests with only two defeats. Billy, cheerful and conscientious, spends his days behind the counter of his pet shop and his evenings running one of the busiest professional boxing gymnasiums in the North at Memphis Hall. Such dedication deserves a Stadium full of champions. However, 20 years after taking out a managers licence, Billy is still waiting for the day when he will turn out his first British title holder.

One of a huge family of 10 boys and two girls, two of Billy's brothers Alec and Charlie were also boxers, while another brother, Jack played as full back for Liverpool FC during the Second World War. Billy started out With the Unity Boys Club in Upper Parliament Street when he was about 10 years of age, stayed with them for four years then moved on to Kensington ABC where he came under the influence of the Douglas brothers, Les and Edga.

Billy was a bantam and/or feather in those days, and recalls losing twice to Birkenhead's Frankie Williams and beating Larry Murray at the Liverpool Stadium on a Northern Counties v London bill in 1943. Later that year Billy, who had been deferred because he was a railway fitter, joined the Army and before he was demobbed he spent much of his time in the Middle East where, despite his amateur status, he regularly boxed with Terry Allen, later to become World champion. "At these shows we would salute the presenting officer, take our medals after the bout then go back stage and hand them back and pick up either 8 for a win or 6 for a loss in National Savings Certificates."

Billy boxed regularly at the Fleet Club in Alexandria, met Cyril Vance on the big V E Day show at the Dekhela Stadium and later had many ring battles in Palestine. When he came out of the Army in 1947 Billy immediately turned professional and though he never had an official manager his affairs were always handled by his old pal Les Douglas.

Billy made his paid debut as a lightweight at the St James' Hall Newcastle on 2 October 1947. He drew with Wilf Bone and came back with just 5 to show for his efforts and the lengthy trip. A week later he drew again, this time at the Stadium, with George Dorset and cleared 6. It was not a particularly brilliant start, but Billy had laid the foundations for a very useful career, in which he was to lose only twice in his first 23 bouts and finish with an overall record of 28 contests, 18 wins, three draws and seven defeats.

Perhaps Billy's biggest chance, and his best payday, came when he met Bert Hornby at Anfield, Liverpool, as the chief supporting contest to the clash of Stan Rowan and Jackie Patterson. It was bad luck for Billy when he had to retire with a badly swollen eye at the end of the fifth. Billy also had two good  wins over South African Fanie Bushney, knocking him out in two rounds with a straight left then forcing him to retire in four and he particularly  recalls outpointing Billy Barton. "My father would never watch me box but our contest was broadcast that night and he sat and listened to it at home. It made my parents' night when the commentator told how my mother had made my black and red dressing gown."

Billy's first defeat came at the hands of Mick Green of Blackpool although he reversed the result the following week. He then won 11 in a row before going in as a short notice substitute and losing to Johnny Smith (Clydebank). Apart from Fanie his best wins came over Maurice Mancini (out of the Randy Turpin stable), Mick O'Neill, Sunderland's Hugh Smith and Tony McTigue of Wigan. A hard hitter, McTigue took a non-stop pounding from Billy who ran out a decisive points winner while Smith was cut about both eyes and was down in the last round but hung on to the final bell.

When he beat Johnny Walsh of Blackpool Billy had him down for four long counts before knocking him out in six. After losing to Bert Hornby early in 1945, he hit a bad streak dropping a points decision to New Zealander Jacky Jenkins then being beaten by Roy Sharples, Les Rendle and Freddie Smith. This was five reverses in a row and the legacy of the Smith fight on 29 September 1950 was a black eye that he carried with him when he walked up the aisle to his wedding a week later.

Billy never boxed again after this but his wife Toni said, "don't let anybody think I am stopping him boxing – the decision was entirely Bill's." With his gloves hung up Billy still wanted to stay in the game and the chance came through his old amateur club, Kensington which was rather run down. Amateur stalwart Sid Thomas offered to take on the secretary's job if Bill would become trainer and this he did.

Eventually he moved on to the PBA gym in Liverpool, took a professional manager's licence and made his first signings in the shape of Billy Evans and Steve Ako. Finally in 1961 he secured his present gym, had the British lightweight champion Dave Charnley along for the official opening mid has never looked back. He feels his best prospect of all was former Central  Area light-heavyweight champion Ray Ako, who is unluckily lost to the game through ill health, but recalls another light-heavy, Joe Louis, who beat Jack Bodell in two rounds at Fleetwood, then refused an Empire title with Chic Calderwood saying he was not ready. 24 hours later Louis changed his mind but the chance was gone.

Billy had a particularly soft spot for Billy Evans, a fine willing worker who twice boxed Lennie 'the Lion' Williams, and once had him down. He also trained Liverpool middle Harry Scott during his purple patch against Ruben  Carter, Nino Benvenuti and Lazio Papp, and spent many mornings with the triple champion John Conteh on roadwork.