Name: Dick Richardson
Hometown: Newport, Wales, United Kingdom
Age at Death: 65
Trainer:Johnny Lewis, Johnny Williams
Hard man of British boxing who left his mark on Henry Cooper
· The Guardian,
· Friday July 16 1999
Those who only met the genial Welshman Dick Richardson in recent years, when he was an affable, smiling presence at the ringside of numerous boxing shows, and an enthusiastic supporter of boxing reunions and charity events, knew only half the story. The former European heavyweight champion, who has died aged 65, was a genuinely hard man, who thrilled a generation of British fight fans with his rough-house style.
In an era which produced such top British heavyweights as Henry Cooper, Brian London, Joe Erskine and Joe Bygraves, Richardson nevertheless made his mark, sometimes literally. "Dick was a dirty bastard," Henry Cooper once said in an interview. "He loved to put the nut in. He used to do it deliberately, usually in the first round." A jagged scar between Cooper's eyes is lasting testimony to a head butt Richardson dished out to his opponent when they fought at Porthcawl in 1958.
Cooper won that fight when his trademark left hook halted Richardson in the fifth round, and he was to beat him at the same stage - and in similar style - when they met again in 1963, when Cooper's British title was at stake. But, between 1960 and 1962, Richardson was good enough to win the European title from the German Hans Kalbfel with a 13th round stoppage in Dortmund - and to defend it successfully on three occasions, before losing in the eighth round in Gothenburg to the former world title holder Ingemar Johansson.
It was Richardson's European title defence against Brian London in August 1960, captured by BBC television, which has gone down in boxing folklore; the night was consigned to sporting history as "the brawl in Porthcawl". London had been forced to retire with serious cuts in the eighth round, but protested that Richardson had been butting him and should have been disqualified. Richardson's trainer, Johnny Lewis, remonstrated with London, and was promptly knocked to the canvas for his pains. A scene reminiscent of a wild west saloon fight broke out, as seconds piled into the ring and Richardson had to be pinned to his stall by corner men to prevent him joining the fray. London was fined £1,000 - a sizeable sum at the time - by the British Boxing Board of Control for the episode.
On hearing of his old adversary's death, he said: "Whenever we met, we would always laugh about that night in Porthcawl. There was never any animosity between Dick and me. He was a great lad, a very good fighter, and he will be greatly missed."
Richardson was born in Newport, the son of a milkman who supplemented his earnings as a motor cyclist with a fairground wall of death show. His father's death, when Richardson was only seven, contributed to a difficult childhood, and the youngster was frequently acquainted with street violence. National service helped give him much-needed purpose and discipline, and it was then that he was introduced to boxing, which he pursued with such success he became the 1954 army champion.
A professional career which ended with retirement in 1963, brought him 31 victories, 14 defeats and two draws - along with handsome financial rewards, which, unlike many boxers, he invested wisely to develop a successful butcher's business in Camberley, Surrey.
He is survived by his wife, Betty, and a son and a daughter.
• Richard Alexander Richardson, boxer, born June 1, 1934; died July 14, 1999
Boxing News September 7th 1956
SIDLE up to a covey of managers, casually mention that you have seen a young heavyweight who shows promise, watch their eyes light up, then step aside quickly in case you get crushed to death in the rush for further information. Jack Dempsey’s one remaining ambition is to find a likely lad and guide him to the World heavyweight crown. To this end he stages annual talent competitions. Many managers have gained fame and fortune and have retired still regretting that they never experienced the thrill of guiding a 200 pounder to the coveted championship. Yet the chance could fall right in your lap – just as it did to Wally Lesley.
Wally has been a fight manager for well over twenty years but it was not until two years ago that one of his boxers, Johnny Lewis, introduced him to Dick Richardson. The later then a raw youngster is now one of Britain's best prospects for the World heavyweight honours.
At first glance Wally liked the look of Dick. but it was not until seven months and nine fights later in April 1955, to be precise, that Wally realised he'd got a find " Dick was fighting Denny Ball at Cardiff" he said. "As I watched him that night it came to me like a flash that here was a prospect who could win the British title. and possibly the World's crown. And he was mine, all mine.
" From then on I determined to do everything in my power to ensure that Dick received the correct guidance and resolved to profit by the mistakes made by other promising young British heavies. They had been built up quickly only to fall by the wayside.'
But this is not the Dick Richardson story. You'll find that in our issue dated October 14. 1955 Yes "Boxing News " realised his potentialities early in his career too.
Pro at 13
No. this story 's about Wally. Born in the Elephant and Castle district of South-East London, watched his first fight at the age of nine, and turned pro at thirteen.His dad, Bill Lesley, helped to instill the urge to use his mitts. The elder Lesley boxed at the old Lambeth School of Arms with great success. Then one day Willie Farrell and Charlie Ward of Blackfriars took Wally to the Catholic Club in South London where he was initiated into the " Noble Art."
Wally's pro career lasted seven years. During that time he had about 150 contests, winning most of them. and retired at the early age of 21. Among those he met were Johnny Broker, Billy Pimm, Hugo Francis. Teddy Murton, Sammy Baker, Harry Pullen, Young Clancy and Syd Whatley.
Retired at 21
And why did he retire at 21 ? Let Wally take up the story. "I loved boxing," he declared.
"I never weighed more than 8st. 41b. But averaging nearly 20 fights a year, I felt I wanted to retire while I was still winning. It was a step I never regretted.
"I didn't get any money at all for my first pro bout," he chuckled. "It was at the Empire
School of Arms in Marylebone Road. I was compensated (?) by seeing my name in the papers
the following day.
" My first purse was fifteen bob for beating Teddy Ganley, at The Ring. I used to walk
from the Elephant to Walham Green, not even sure of having a fight when I got there.
' Then I had to walk back again.
"I did plenty of instructing, too at the North Camberwell Radical Club and the Bow Street and Hunter Street Police Club. Always kept good company.
" It was while instructing at the Crossways Athletic Club that I met Margaret Waller,
who was a champion sprinter. And in 1923 we got married, Now we have three sons, youngest
of whom is 28, and three grandchildren.
" For years I worked in Covent Garden Market in a variety of capacities, checker, porter,
the lot. I once worked in a pawnbroker's shop, but got the sack for turning up with a couple of black eyes. Incidentally, I never used a protector or gumshield in my life."
In 1934 Wally took out a manager's licence, and his •first boxer was bantamweight Harry
Graham, who was sent to him by Mike Honeyman, British feathers champ in 1920. When war broke out Wally joined the Royal Artillery and was soon posted overseas to East
Africa Ind Egypt. He became a sergeant instructor in battle courses, but did he neglect
his boxing ? No, sir.
" I think I was the first one to teach boxing in Kenya," he said. " I staged a tournament there that will go down in history. We knocked tree trunks into the ground and put boards over them to make a ring, borrowed the lights from a R.A.F. hangar, then crossed our fingers and ' On with the show.' We just hoped it would stand up under the strain.". " And, did it ? " I asked.
" Sure thing," replied Wally. "And it attracted a crowd of 12,000, comprising
7,500 East Africans. 3,000 Italian prisoners, and 1,500 British troops." Came the end of the war and he came back to pick up the threads of boxing managership. He always had a good little stable, and- no reference to the Lesley clan would be complete without mention of Johnny Lewis.
Johnny was introduced to him by George Daly, whom Wally describes as "the cleverest boxer never to win a title.". "I had Johnny in the gym for ten months before I considered him ready to make his pro debut," declared Wally. " And he never let me down. His career lasted about four years. and when he retired in 1953 he became trainer to my stable.
I have no hesitation in saying that Johnny is now one of Britain' top trainers. Dick Richardson i fitter and better than he's eve been. His condition against Joe Erskine was a revelation. And it's mainly due to Johnny.
Wally has proved himself to be one of the shrewdest managers in the game, too. Although Dick': fight with Erskine was a non-title affair, Richardson's share of the purse was in the region of £5,000 far more than Erskine's. A typical Lesley stroke, and an outstanding example of his expert guidance.
" They say a 'loser's dressing room is the loneliest place in the world," chuckled Wally. "But not that night. I had to fight my way through the mob to get near Dick. Everyone wanted to shake his hand.
" A lot has been written about our tackling moderate Continentals. My view is this : It's better for Dick to keep fighting than lay about in the gym. And he's learning—and earning—all the time.
" Why didn't I put forward Dick's name as a contender for the British title ? Simple. Because I didn't want to be tied down at that the first time I was asked officially. The next time it cropped up I was not even asked. Presumably it was taken for granted
that my answer would be the same."
In addition to his normal duties, Wally has also acted as business manager in promotions at Crystal Palace, Manor Place Baths and Reading.When he does get a chance to relax it's the cinema (twice a week) or the London Palladium. " I love Variety," he told me, " especially ' pop ' singers like Billy, Daniels, Dave King and Dickie Valentine.
" Why are all your fighters milk roundsmen ? " I asked him. Don't tell me it's -pure coincidence."
" No," replied Wally. " I believe a fighter should be near his manager. I have friends in the milk business. So, if one of my boys wants a job, then its there—on my doorstep. And don't forget they start early and finish early, leaving plenty of time for training. Good stuff for drinking, too—so they tell me.
" As to the future—this is my plan. We will meet any leading American heavyweight that may come to Britain. If they don't materialise quickly, then we'll go to the United States.
"Dick is like me. He loves fighting. He reminds me very much of Ted ' Kid 'Lewis. So I'll make a prediction. Richardson for the World's heavyweight title. And the date-1958."