East End Born and Bled: The Remarkable Story of London Boxing

PUBLISHED: 09:00 15 February 2020

East End Born and Bled by Jeff Jones

East End Born and Bled by Jeff Jones


Jeff Jones recalls the memories from his east London upbringing which sparked a lifelong fascination with his local boxing scene and culminated in his debut book East End Born & Bled: The Remarkable Story of Boxing in London.

Charlie Chaplin and boxer Ted 'Kid' Lewis have a friendly boxing match.Charlie Chaplin and boxer Ted 'Kid' Lewis have a friendly boxing match.

"When I was younger boxing was everywhere. I lived 20 minutes from Leyton baths," explains Jones.

"In those days they used to board the baths up and hold boxing and wrestling events, so there were these huge boxing events only up the road from where I lived.

"But I didn't fight myself because it was a bit tough for me - I stuck to football and cricket!"

East End Born & Bled tracks 300 years of east London boxing's evolution, from the first unregulated bare knuckle fights in the 1720s through what Jones calls the "Golden Age" of the 1950s-70s, concluding just after the turn of the millennium.

Despite his boxing obsession, Jones says his early research for the book was accidental as he initially intended only to write an article about the Hackney sports' club he attended as a child.

"I was planning on doing a small story on Eton Manor, an East End boys' sports club I used to go to," added Jones.

"It was their centenary and at the same time I was researching the club I was reading Ray Winstone's autobiography. Ray was a big boxer in his early days before he fell into the film and TV world.

"The more I delved into the history of Eton Manor and their part in the boxing region Ray Winstone was involved in, I thought, 'there's a big story here to be told about boxing in East London,' and I took it from there.

"I made more inquiries, started to track down boxers and gather information. After about six months I realised the amount of information I was getting through was huge. So I changed tack and started to write a book."

In East End Born & Bled, Jones attempts to combine his love of boxing with his prior expertise in family and social history, tracing the rise of boxing in the East End alongside the area's development.

You may also want to watch:

It features interviews and family histories of boxers - including Stepney-born former featherweight world champion Sammy McCarthy, who sadly died on Monday aged 88 - and covers the entirety of the East End's boxing industry including trainers, clubs, promoters, managers and both the amateur and professional sides of the sport.

Jones speaks of the dynamic mix of cultures in the cosmopolitan East End as European immigrants coalesced with the indigenous population from the 18th century onwards to create a deprived yet colourful melting pot for the development of boxers.

"You had the French Huguenots set up in Spitalfields after they were expelled from France and after that the Irish immigrants came to escape the Potato Famine in the 1840s," explains Jones.

"Then you had a massive influx of central and eastern European Jews from the pogroms in Russia.

"Boxing was the catalyst they used to try to raise themselves out of the impoverished environment they were living in.

"The East End was a place of boxing. South Wales produced countless numbers of rugby union players and the north produced soccer players. They came out of the mines to play their sport whereas in the East End they came out of the docks to box."

Reflecting the hardship of the East End and portraying boxing as a transformative means of lifting its residents out of poverty represent the twin aims Jones hopes the book will achieve.

Asked to choose his favourite of the boxers he came across while researching, Jones identifies two fighters who stuck in his memory above all others.

"There's a group of Jewish boxers who stood out in the bare-knuckle days," Jones says. "They had two world class boxers - Ted 'Kid' Berg and Ted 'Kid' Lewis.

"Two world champions, both fought all over the world, particularly in America. They were two shining lights, two big boxers of the day and they came from the Jewish community.

"They found themselves in the slums of the East End and wanted to get out like everyone else. So they developed their boxing skills to lift them out of poverty."

*East End Born & Bled: The Remarkable Story of Boxing in London will be published on Feburary 15. There will be an open launch event on Saturday February 29 at the Whitechapel Idea Store at 2pm.

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the East London Advertiser. Click the link in the yellow box below for details.

Latest East London Sports News

11 minutes ago

The Premier League has held talks with sports technology company STATSports to help shape training sessions ahead of the move to contact training.

21 minutes ago

Former Rugby Football Union chief executive Francis Baron believes a ‘Coronavirus Cup of World Rugby’ next summer could significantly ease the economic hardship facing the global game because of the pandemic.

Yesterday, 18:12

Lee Westwood is optimistic that the European Tour’s planned resumption at the Betfred British Masters will go ahead in July.

Yesterday, 16:00

West Ham United co-owner David Sullivan is to make a personal donation to Newham Foodbank of £3,500, to cover the shortfall in matchday donations from the five postponed home matches from Irons Supporting Foodbanks.

Yesterday, 14:00

Players from West Ham United’s Academy of Football are keeping track of their fitness programmes, while at the same time raising money in aid of King George and Queen’s Hospitals Charity, to support their inspiring local NHS heroes in East London and Essex.

Yesterday, 10:00

Leyton Orient chief executive Danny Macklin heaped praise on Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane by terming him as a ‘first-class individual’

Yesterday, 07:35

The International Cricket Council (ICC)’s recommendation of a temporary ban on using saliva to shine the ball could hand batsmen a significant advantage, claims Australia paceman Mitchell Starc.

Mon, 16:02

The 2019-20 Women’s Super League season has been brought to an end with immediate effect.


The Government has announced an unprecedented package of support to protect jobs and support business across the UK during the coronavirus outbreak.

People working for a wide range of private companies have been standing side-by-side with public sector staff on the front line during the coronavirus outbreak.

The United Kingdom is pulling together as one, with people from all regions and all four nations of the country helping each other through the coronavirus pandemic.

Most read sport


A competition for wannabe writers has been started to add works to Canary Wharf’s ‘short story’ dispensers which are temporarily locked up by the lock down.

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Docklands and East London Advertiser
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now

Most Read

Latest from the East London Advertiser