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Charlie Fox
Name:
Charlie Fox
Career Record:click
Alias: Kid
Nationality: British
Hometown: St Helens, Merseyside, United Kingdom

 Known as the father figure of boxing in St. Helens, Charlie Fox was also one of the region's greatest trainers. Following his service in the First World War, Charlie opened an amateur club in Manchester before moving on to train professionals. A few pro contests .followed before he decided his future lay in the coaching side of the sport. His first gym in St. Helens was in Bath Street, and he then moved on to Rainford. Some of the boxers he couched include Dick Tiger, Hogan 'Kid' Bassey and Eric Marsden. Date and cause of death unknown. Syd Dye's article first appeared in the Liverpool Echo May 29 1973.

 Known as the father figure of boxing in St. Helens, Charlie Fox was also one of the region's greatest trainers. Following his service in the First World War, Charlie opened an amateur club in Manchester before moving on to train professionals. A few pro contests .followed before he decided his future lay in the coaching side of the sport. His first gym in St. Helens was in Bath Street, and he then moved on to Rainford. Some of the boxers he couched include Dick Tiger, Hogan 'Kid' Bassey and Eric Marsden. Date and cause of death unknown. Syd Dye's article first appeared in the Liverpool Echo May 29 1973.

CHARLIE FOX

The man who put St. Helens on the boxing map

At 80 years of age, Charlie Fox is the father figure of St Helens boxing –and he is also one of the fittest octogenarians one could meet. His physical condition pays remarkable testimony to his life's work as a boxing trainer. Indeed, if all the fighters who have passed through his hands finish as sprightly and dapper as him in their old age, then they will owe him a considerable debt. It's a far cry from the dark days of the First World War, which saw him finish his active service in the trenches at Passchendale, wounded and suffering from trench fever, and makes his own fitness and his work among athletes all the more remarkable.

Charlie, who has lived with his wife Elsie in the same St. Helens road for close on 40 years, picked up his early boxing knowledge in France when serving with the 5th South Lancs. Regiment. He still treasures the silver medal he was awarded for being runner-up in a Forces boxing competition in France. A featherweight, he had the famous Bombardier Billy Wells in his corner and became so interested in the sport that when he was discharged in 1919 he started the Holy Name Boxing Club in Manchester. From working with the amateurs he graduated to the professionals and could often be seen helping out at the YMCA. One of the big pro stars who trained there was Boy McCormick, a heavyweight from Stockport who had done a lot of boxing in America.

"Those were the days," Charlie reminisced, "when some sophistication was coming into sport, such as dressing gowns instead of just a towel around the neck, and headguards for training." Eventually Charlie decided to try his hand as a professional fighter and on his debut he stopped Frank Frost, billed as the 'fighting taxi driver' from Plymouth, at Hulme Town Hall. He had only a handful of bouts, however, before realising that at his age he was not going to make a fortune, so he joined the ranks of trainers and over the years established himself as one of the best in Britain. Men like Hogan 'Kid' Bassey and Dick Tiger, two Nigerians who in post-war years came to Liverpool and went on to win world titles, passed through his hands, as did that great St. Helens fighter, Eric Marsden.

Charlie, who once cycled from Manchester to Hanley in Staffordshire and back in the same night to see Britain's Tommy Harrison win the European bantam title from Frenchman Charles Ledoux, did his early groundwork at Hulme Boxing Club with Tommy Riley. The gym housed such great names as Jock McAvoy, Jackie Brown, Johnny King and Northern Area heavyweight champion Con O'Kelly, who later became a Jesuit priest.

Eventually Charlie's firm moved him to St. Helens and he set up a gym over the slaughterhouse in Bath Street. It would become as famous as any gym in the country. For seven years he turned out some of the fittest fighters in the North, but the crunch came and they had to find new premises. With the help of Harry Ormesher, Ted Denvir and Ossie Wade, they moved to the old village dance hall behind the Star Inn at Rainford. It was opened by heavyweight champion Bruce Woodcock and men like welter champ Henry Hall, Johnny Molloy, the St. Helens feather contender ("I got him down to featherweight when he thought he was a lightweight") and his own son, Charlie Fox jnr., all worked regularly in this gym.

The locals, with whom Charlie still has a great affinity, formed the Rainford Society at 1 per head per annum to help the gym along but eventually the premises became unsafe and they had to close. After trying everywhere for fresh rooms, Charlie finally succeeded in moving back to the old loft over the slaughterhouse in Bath Street, and this is where he stayed until it finally closed due to redevelopment of the area and the ever-diminishing number of professional boxers. Joe Bygraves, the former Liverpool-based Jamaican who was Empire heavyweight champion. trained there for his contest with America's Zora Folley at Leicester. In the early days they had no bath or shower, but made a container out of bricks and canvas in which the fighters stood and had buckets of water (heated at a house opposite) poured over them.

It was from this gym that Bassey went to Paris to win the world featherweight title from Cherif Hamia in 1957, and Charlie has a letter from Mr. J. Onslow Fame, chairman of the BBB of C at the time, congratulating him on Bassey's wonderful fitness. Charlie was called `Chappie' by Bassey. After seeing Bassey to bed on the eve of that Paris contest he found a note from Bassey addressed to him when he returned to his own bedroom. It read: "By the grace of God, I, Hogan Bassey will win the championship of the World tomorrow."

Charlie recalls that when Bassey returned to his dressing room after stopping Hamia in 10 rounds, Mr. John Moores, the Liverpool millionaire and Everton FC chairman, who was also a steward of the BBB of C, knelt and removed Bassey's boots and socks and when Bassey went for his shower, Mr. Moores tried to turn it on for him. At first it wouldn't work, however, so Mr. Moores stepped into the shower to try again and for his trouble got a real soaking – which nobody, least of all Mr. Moores, minded, such was the celebratory mood after Bassey's great win.

Charlie took out a manager's licence and guided Eric Marsden, "What a credit to boxing he was", to a British title fight with Dai Dower. He also managed St. Helens light-heavy Wilf Glyn and his own son Charlie, who was also managed for a while by Ted Denvir. Charlie jnr. never boxed as an amateur but started straight off as a professional at 16 years of age back in 1934. He topped the bill at the Stadium when he was only 17 and altogether had not far short of a century of contests, winning around 75.

He beat Johnny McGrory and won a Waldorf Gold belt in a featherweight competition open to all England at Manchester, beating Bobby Hinds (Barnsley) one of the last of the old school of great infighters, in the final. The following year, young Fox lost to Joe Royce in the final of the same competition when a win would have made the valuable belt his own property. There was nearly a riot when the result was announced. Charlie met such men as Gordon Ashun, Billy Barton, and Ben Duffy and, but for the intervention of the war, might have gone in with the great Eric Boon. When he lost to Stan Hawthorne in four rounds on a cut eye decision in 1946 he finally hung up his gloves, but still holding pride of place in his father's home is the magnificent coloured photograph, nearly life size, of the young Charlie wearing the gold belt that he so very nearly made his own.

 

Charlie Fox 1