1933 : First boxing show at the Baths Hall

From the Mitcham News & Mercury, 3rd February, 1933, page 1

COUNCILLORS VISIT BOXING SHOW

Exhibition Contests at the New Baths
“NO COMPLAINTS”

A large number of Mitcham Councillors witnessed the first boxing exhibition to be held at the new Mitcham Baths, which took place on Monday evening. Before the boxing began the public who were present were told that they had the matter in their own hands as to whether regular boxing shows should be given at the baths or not, and the general verdict of the councillors was that the crowd had behaved splendidly.

“No complaints” was the general verdict of the Mitcham councillors after they had witnessed the first public boxing exhibition in the new Baths Hall on Monday evening.

The hall had been let to Mr. Meltonville for a boxing entertainment on the understanding that if a satisfactory report after the first occasion was received, the baths superintendent should be authorised to accept bookings from Mr. Meltonville every Monday during February.

The promoter, anxious to convince the Council of his integrity and the orderliness of his entertainment, invited the whole of the members of the Council to witness the exhibition for themselves. Most of the councillors availed themselves of the privilege, and there were present during the evening Couns. S. L. Gaston, J.P. (chairman of the Baths Committee), E. J. D. Field, H. F. Cusden, W. Dalton, J. S. Abraham, A. E. D. Clark, W. Curtis Wakeford, H. H. Dance, S. W. Duckett, T. A. East, S. J. Humphries, L. F. Rolls, S. R. Self, W. J. Blandford, G. W. Cole, J. Brewer, R. A. Brodie and Mr. Riley Schofield (surveyor and engineer).

Ring-side tickets were presented to the councillors, but the majority preferred not to be too prominent, and they sat on the platform at the far end of the hall.

BEHAVED SPLENDIDLY

Over a thousand spectators were present, and they behaved splendidly, very little partisanship being evinced during any of the contests. There was a fair sprinkling of the fair sex.

At the outset, the announcer appealed to the assembly to give fair play to the boxers and to behave like respectable citizens. “If you do that,” he added, “the promoter will give you full value for your money, and a square deal in the way of tip-top boxers, and probably a few champions, and you will be able to have these exhibitions regularly. If you do not behave properly then it will mean shutting down.” The crowd cheered in agreement.

Six bouts were successfully carried through without the slightest hitch so far as the spectators were concerned. One or two substitutes had to be found for advertised boxers who failed to turn up. Otherwise the programme was observed to the letter, with capable officials on duty and a perfect ring.

Before the last contest started, Mr. J. Windsor stepped into the ring, and speaking on behalf of Mr. Meltonville and himself, said he must thank the assembly for the way in which they had behaved throughout the show. He hoped that in future shows they would conduct themselves in the same orderly fashion. “It remains in your hands,” Mr. Windsor added, “whether these shows are held. If you behave properly they will continue, and you will see some of the best boxing talent in the country. I want to pay tribute to the Mitcham Council. I have never come across a more beautiful hall than this baths hall. It is a credit to the Council and the ratepayers, and I trust you will do your best in keeping it nice and respectable.” (Loud cheers).

“GOOD AS GOLD”

Coun. S. L. Gaston, J.P., chairman of the Baths Committee, said: “I have no complaints whatever. The conduct of the spectators has been quite good. Personally, I have seen nothing whatever to take exception to, and as far as I can see, the shows will be permitted to go on. If the crowd always behaves in the same orderly manner nothing can be said against them. They were as good as gold to-night, and I hope they will always be the same. For a first attempt the exhibition was satisfactory in every way.”

Coun. Harry Cusden said: “You could have not got a better audience in the Central Hall, Tooting Broadway, at a Brotherhood meeting. I have seen many scraps at the Ring and the National Sporting Club, but never have I sat with a more orderly lot of chaps. I got among the mob because I wanted to see the scrapping, and I must say I neither saw nor heard anything to object to. Of course, there were some of “the lads of the village” present and their language would not appeal to everybody, but is is their ordinary vocabulary, and you have to put up with it. I heard several comment favourably on the hall; in fact, they appeared astounded, and I think they appreciated the nice surroundings, and were inclined to make their conduct fit in with them. In all my experience of boxing crowds, I am certain this was the best. They were a credit to themselves and everybody concerned. If they keep it up nobody can object to the assemblies and the shows.”

Coun. W. Dalton was rather reticent. He said: “I have seen nothing I can object to in the behaviour of the crowd.”

Coun. S. W. Duckett said: “I had an open mind when I came. I am leaving with the conviction that a boxing crowd can behave.”

Coun. Cole had previously asserted that if there was a demand for boxing displays in Mitcham the people had a right to say whether they wanted boxing or dancing in the hall. He sat with Coun. Cusden in the gallery watching the show, and expressed himself as perfectly satisfied.

Couns. Field and Brewer openly confessed that boxing displays did not appeal to them.

Mr. C. P. Walker, the baths superintendent, told one of our reporters next morning: “I don’t remember a more orderly boxing crowd. At Hull it was much different, but, of course, it is expected and the crowd don’t disappoint you. From my contact with the crowd here, I feel they were impressed by the appeal made to them from the ring at the start, and they realised that no nonsense would be tolerated. I think also that they do not want to jeopardise future shows. I heard scores of spectators say they had never seen a nicer hall, and it was a pity if anything was done to spoil it. I can say that no damage whatever was committed, and the refuse left behind was nothing to complain about. There were just two empty pint beer bottles and the usual refuse to be seen the morning afer any cinema show. Not a single chair was any the worse, though a few were used for standing on at the back. However, when the attendants spoke to the offenders they were quite reasonable and readily did as they were asked. I regard the crowd as quite normal, and personally, I have no complaint to make of any description.”

The boxing contests were quite exciting, though scarcely attaining the standard anticipated. Four bouts over twelve rounds figured on the programme, but only one of these travelled the full distance.

Eddie MANNING (Tooting) scored a popular victory over Harry JENKINS (Camden Town), who retired at the end of the eighth round with a badly damaged eye.

Patsy FLYNN (Blackfriars) did not experience much trouble in disposing of Alf. WATTS (Edmonton), who was knocked out in the second round.

Johnny HARRIS (King’s Cross) beat Herbie FRASER (Westbourne Park), the referee intervening at the end of the seventh round.

Jack ELLIS (Bermondsey) had to fight hard before outpointing Sonnie DOKE (Battersea). This was easily the best encounter of the evening, and as “the old un” stood up and exchanged blow for blow with his younger adversary, the crowd cheered vociferously, Doke visibly tired with his punishment, but he managed to keep going, and made a gallant toe-to-toe fight of it. At the finish the applause was equal and the liberal shower of coppers in the ring showed the bout had been well appreciated.

In a six-round bout, Sonny SMITH (Mitcham) beat “Young” BRUMMY (Blackfriars) on points, and Harry TAYLOR (Tooting) knocked out Jack ROBERTS (Wimbledon) in the fourth round of the concluding bout.

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