Name: Gus Foran
Alias: Gerard Foran
Birthplace: Liverpool, England
Hometown: Liverpool, England
Age at Death: 72
The big-hearted bantam
When boxing men meet and talk of the past, two names invariably crop Up as among the unluckiest Liverpool fighters never to get a British title shot. One is welterweight Jimmy Molloy and the other, little Gus Foran, a bantamweight whose left hand punch was like the kick of a mule and who, like Molloy, found World War Two biting deep into his career. Foran, like some many great Liverpool fighters of the 1930s and 40s, took his earlyring steps as a member of St Malachy's, which he joined as a seven year old. He was not from a boxing family, though a cousin Jimmy Gevitt was a notable amateur and professional.
Gus didn't make much of an impact as a youngster but he blossomed when he reached the senior ranks wining the Lanes and Cheshire flyweight title. In 1939, when a member of the Metropolitan Club, along which such stalwarts as DuggiePomford, Dick Walsh and Johnny McLean, he gained his biggest amateur success by winning a special golden gloves tournament at Lodge Lane Baths, organised by the Metropolitan. In an event which drew entries from all over the country, Gus took the bantam title. His prize was a miniature set of boxing gloves made of gold. He had his treasured memento insured for ú300 and recalls that DuggiePomford got a similar award for winning the middleweight title.
Gus was 20 when he turned professional, just after the outbreak of the war, signing on for manager Jack Hennessy, a Liverpool man who had handled fighters in America and who at various times managed men such as Jack London (when he won the British Heavyweight title), Jimmy Stubbs, Sammy Reynolds, Ronnie Clayton and Charlie Fox of St. Helens. Fox also went on to help with the training of Hogan Kid Bassey, the Liverpool based Nigerian who won the world featherweight title.
Almost as soon as his fists started earning money Gus found himself in the Royal Navy. He finished as an AB gunner, spending most of the war years on convoy duty, first to Iceland and then between Gibraltar and
Alexandria. Such duties did not deter him from the sport he loved, however, and he was often in the boxing ring when in port at Alexandria and was once voted the No. 1 British sportsman in the Middle East against such hot competition as soccer internationals Tom Finney and Benny Fenton.
In 1946 Gus was demobbed and wasted no time in taking up his ring career seriously again with 18 contests in 17 weeks. Not that his fists had been idle during the war, for among the men he met while the sirens wailed were Jackie Paterson and Peter Kane (both one time World flyweight champions), Ronnie Clayton (British feather champion after the war), and the popular Kid Tanner, who came from British Guiana to make his home in Liverpool.
Gus was outpointed by Kane in 1943 but later that year beat Clayton on points, and in 1945 he took a points decision over Paterson having earlier lost to him on points at the Queensbury Club, London. At the Queensbury Club show he was watched by then First Lord of the Admiralty, Lord Alexander, who came up to him afterwards, shook him by the hand and said "Foran you are the guts of the Navy." Gus whose left eye was split in the second round was taken out to dinner by Lord Alexander later that night.
It seemed obvious that once the world, and sport, returned to normal nothing could stop Foran getting a shot at the British title. However, the nearest he got was in 1948 when that other great Liverpool battler, Stan Rowan almost put his British crown at stake against Gus at Anfield. Gus even got a contract for an Australian tour if he won the championship but the contest never came oft Instead Rowan went to South Africa where he lost his Empire championship to Vic Toweel and when he came back he relinquished his British title. Then the Board of Control paired Danny O'Sullivan and Teddy Gardner for the vacant championship in December 1949, despite the fact that Foran had beaten Gardner the previous year. In factthe only title Foran won as a professional was the Northern Area bantamweight championship. This was in 1948 and it took him just 90 seconds to dispose of Manchester's Billy Tansey at the Stadium.
One of the best bantamweight left hookers of all time, Gus once floored former Welsh flyweight champion Dudley Lewis five times before knocking him out in the seventh. He had Teddy Gardner on the deck nine times in 10 rounds and dropped another Welsh champion; the Lanky Eddie Dumazel, eight times before ending it in the fifth.
He feels the roughest deal he ever got was losing to Joe Curran on points over 15 rounds at the Stadium. "Joe hardly laid a glove on me and there was uproar at the decision. The Stadium was packed that night – they were even hanging on the rafters. It was 30/- ring side and I knew it was going to be full so I asked for a percentage. In the end, however, I had to agree to share a purse of ú400."
Gus rates the hardest hitter he ever met was a Paris based Spaniard, Luis Fernandez, whom he outpointed in 1948. He told me "after the contest my shoulder seized up from the tremendous left hands of Fernandez that kept landing on it, I couldn't go to work for a week".
He didn't box in any of the Anfield open-air shows but once topped the bill at Wrexham Football Club, giving a stone, and losing on points, to SydWorgan. He recalls with particular pride his points win over the rough, tough Paddy Dowdall, who had claimed to be the world amateur flyweight champion (he was in fact a European amateur champion) and who had beat most of our best featherweights.
Gus says of his contest with Dudley Lewis at the Stadium, "those who saw it will probably agree that it provided the greatest third round ever seen in the hall. Lewis was deputising for Peter Kane and we hammered each other, both taking counts. The bell saved him in that round, but I finally nailed him in the seventh".
In 1946 he fought Theo Medina in Paris, losing on points after dislocating his right hand in the fourth, but his worst injury came in 1949 when he lost to the Italian, Alvaro Nuvoloni at the Stadium. Gus says "I got his elbow in my eye during a clinch in the sixth and the side of my face ballooned up. My manager threw in the towel." He also had two great contests with the popular Swiss feathers champion ZigiTennebaun, beating him twice, while he also beat Kid Tanner twice and George Thomas four times (losing once to him on a disqualification).
Gus, who ended his ring career on a winning note in August 1951 beating Trinidad champion RolyBlyce in four rounds, had nearly 100 professional contests and was one of the best value for money bantams Merseyside had ever produced. His biggest purse was the ú500 he received for his second contest with Jackie Paterson and he has to this day the green and gold boxing shorts he wore so often and with such distinction.
Gus lives with his wife Anne, not far from Dingle's famous Golden Gloves amateur club, which he still supports. He has a son, Gerrard and a daughter, Anne. He works at Canada Dock and despite their bad run this season he is still proud to recall that he played twice for Everton in 1943, at inside right in home and away matches for the reserves against Marine in war time cup ties.
Gus was christened Gerard but Jack Hutchinson a former Northern Counties amateur champion, who at one time wroteonder the name of “Silent Count” for the old Evening News called him Gus when he saw the name G.Foran on an amateur programme in the 1930’s.