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Johnny Best

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Written by Rob Snell   

Saturday, 30 June 2007

Johnny Best

Liverpools popular promoter July 22 1936
Under the spotlight ( extract from the article
In the who’s who of British boxing the smiling features of Johnny Best occupy a  a leading position. The popular promoter at the Liverpool Stadium,  who has staged  so many championships and other important contests has learnt to take rebuffs with a smile.
He has had probably more last minute disappointments than any other promoter, but the “never say die” principle is instilled in his veins and he invariably comes out on top.

Johnny is Liverpool born and bred and his appetite for boxing was whetted some 40 yrs ago, when as a boy he witnessed his first fight billed as a championship at the old Liverpool Coronation hall, when Philadelphia Jack O’Brien and Yank Kenny met. It ended in a win for O’Brien on a foul and so upset Kenny that on hearing the decision he struck the referee.

In after years “J.B” has had all the principal Liverpool boys under his management, and one of the best was his chum, the late Nat Williams, who fought draws with Kid lewis and Johnny Bashum at the old Pudsey Street Stadium.

 The old Stadium which  opened in 1911 erected  a new era in Merseyside boxing and for the first time Liverpool took a real interest in the game. For 7 years Johnny was principal second there, and was in the corner when such fights as Dixie Kid v Kid Lewis, Bashum and Badona, and Jimmy Wilde and Tommy Noble.

 When Mr Best took up the management of the old Stadium it took him six months before it became a paying proposition, but he staged the right stuff and scored a success. He brought of the first Lonsdale belt fight in Liverpool between Nel Tarleton and Johnny Cuthbert which resulted in a draw.

 Another big fight was scored when he brought together for the I.B.U championship Alf Howard and Sybille, and the local won on a foul. So great was the interest in that contest that spectators queued up at 10am. On that occasion the referee was Count Volpi, now one of Mussolini’s chief advisers.

 When the old Stadium closed down, and on the site rose a palatial picturedrome , Johnny promised the last night audience that it would not be the finale of Liverpool boxing. He staged contests at New Brighton and open air bouts at the Liverpool Football Ground: one of these was the return belt contest between Nel Tarleton and Al Foreman, both of which the Merseysider won.

 After an interval the foundation stone of the new Stadium was laid by Lord Lonsdale and eventually the new Stadium was opened, and on the first night the Stadium kept up its record as the graveyard of champions, and no less than four were defeated on the opening night.

 Boxers, in addition to Nel Tarleton , who made history in the new building  are Jimmy Walsh, Ginger Foran, Jimmy Stewart, Dom Volante, Ernie Roderick and Jake Kilrain. At the present Johnny is relying on Peter Kane, Jack Stanner and Reg Gregory, and there are big possibilities in the trio.

 The promoter  scored a huge success with the Miller – Tarleton fight and created a recordfor the provinces in numbers and money over 31,000 spectators being present. In his career as promoter Johnny has been responsible for the world , the European and five British championships .

 Mrs best is also a boxing enthusiast and is often to be seen at the stadium. Johnny has threes sons , John is his fathers aide-de-camp at the stadium along with his ever obliging Mr Benny Carter.

 His son has journalistic abilities and every week pens the interesting boxing news in the weekly programme which reveals that he has an old head on young shoulders
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