Sammy tells his story of bygone boxing era

PUBLISHED: 09:00 15 August 2014

Sammy McCarthy celebrates winning the British featherweight title in 1954 with trainer Snowy Buckingham and manager Jack King

Sammy McCarthy celebrates winning the British featherweight title in 1954 with trainer Snowy Buckingham and manager Jack King


Stepney fighter who became east London's big boxing hero of the 1950s

Former British featherweight champion Sammy McCarthy relaxes at home (pic: Alex Daley)Former British featherweight champion Sammy McCarthy relaxes at home (pic: Alex Daley)

‘Smiling’ Sammy McCarthy, the Stepney fighter who became east London’s big boxing hero of the 1950s, admits he took up the sport because he was frightened, writes Len Whaley.

Sammy is now an 82-year-old living in Wanstead and enjoying the company of friends at the London Ex-Boxers Association, after an eventful life in and out of the ring.

Still smiling, the ex-champion insisted: “Even on my lowest day, I think it’s wonderful to be alive. I am just happy being here.”

McCarthy is featured in a new book “Fighting Men of London – voices from inside the ropes”, by Alex Daley, which has been produced by Pitch Publishing and is priced at £16.99.

It recalls a boom time for boxing when the leading fighters were working class idols.

McCarthy recalls following his brother into the sport, saying: “I always wanted to box, but I was always very frightened, very nervous.

“I overcome it the way you overcome things and started boxing at the Stepney St Georges Club.”

Later came a pro career and big nights at White City, Harringay Arena and the Royal Albert Hall where coachloads of east London fans travelled to cheer their hero on.

After retiring from the ring in 1957 McCarthy managed fighters including Terry Spinks and owned pubs in east London, before he became immersed in the criminal world as a bank robber – for the same reason he took up boxing. “I started doing it because I was excited and always frightened of getting caught,” he says with no bitterness about the long jail sentences that followed.

“Everything I got, believe me, I deserved.”

McCarthy is well covered in a 50-page chapter in the book which also features other east London ex-fighters, including Sid Nathan, Ted Berry, Albert Carroll and Teddy Lewis.

Their memories provide many interesting stories told by author Alex Daley, a grandson of 1920’s boxing legend ‘Nipper’ Pat Daley.

The author provides an insight into the lives of the fighting men of the past – it’s a good read!

■ The legendary east London boxing trainer Jimmy Tibbs will launch his new autobiography at the Peacock Gym in Caxton Street, Canning Town on Thursday August 21.

‘Jimmy Tibbs Sparring with Life’ written with Paul Zanon and published by Trinity Mirror Media, is priced at £9.99 and covers his career over half a century in the sport, from schoolboy boxer to the trainer of world champions.

The launch and book signing is open to the public from 6-7.30pm.

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