Miles Templeton presents an analysis of the relevant situation in Birmingham in the 30s
Having received a good response from my article of October 6 about boxing in the 1930s, and how many there were, I will expand the subject a little by looking at the activities in and around Birmingham during this period.
Birmingham has long been the birthplace of boxing. I think that in 15 years any part of 1900 can claim to be the war capital of Britain, even ahead of London. Men like Billy Plimmer, Owen Moran and Jabez White were building on Birmingham’s reputation for producing fighters during the barracks. The core of the game in the ‘City of a thousand trades’ is the location of the fan. Amateur boxing was a huge part of the sport in the 1920s and many top pros made their name fighting without pay, with Jack Hood and Bert Kirby being good examples.
In 1931 Birmingham Gazette, one newspaper that took its reporting of the game seriously recorded the results of 499 professional matches. That’s almost double the number of shows taking place today in the whole of England, and all of them took place within a radius of about thirty miles from the city centre. Birmingham.
Let’s look at one week. The busiest month is November, when there are 61 shows, an average of two a day for the whole month. The first of the month was Sunday and, on that day, one could choose to attend either the weekly show at the Palais de Danse, West Bromwich, or on the grounds of Navigation Street in nearby Walsall. The next day he saw events at Kent Street Baths, Birmingham, and at Madeley, Nuneaton, Smethwick and Worcester. Tuesday saw another event in Smethwick and Wednesday, showing in Dudley and Wednesfield. Thursday was a quiet night, with just one show at the Argyle Boxing Club, on Moat Row, in Birmingham. Things heat up on Friday evenings when one can attend the Drill Hall in Bilston, the Handsworth Stadium, the Town Hall in Oldbury, or the Sydenham Hotel in Small Heath. The last night, Saturday, which is the evening when the competition is usually held, was empty. For some reason Midlanders would rather watch boxing during the week, than do something else on a Saturday evening.
At other parts of the year boxing is regularly held in Aston, Coseley, Coventry, Sparkbrook, Stourbridge, Tamworth, Tyseley, Wednesbury and Wolverhampton, among other places. During the summer open air games can be seen attracting huge crowds at the football grounds in Bilston, Bloxwich and Brierley Hill, the greyhound track in Wolverhampton and the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham.
One of the biggest events of the year took place on December 14th at the Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham, when the local sports committee held their eleventh annual charity event. The top bill was a ‘three-twelfth’ between local champion Len Tiger Smith and former British featherweight champion, Harry Corbett of Bethnal Green. The card featured Ferndale Arnold Arnold Kid Sheppard, who won 355 professional tournaments, a local star, Charlie Rowbotham, Londoner Tommy Hyams and Charlie’s brother Jimmy in a ten-rounder, and Walsall’s Peter Nolan and Peter Price of Worcester. , two rising ones. A weighted average of eight does the math. Fifty boxes of less than fifty shillings.
The Birmingham area is not new to these levels of activity, as boxing is done in Wales, in the North East, around Nottingham and Leicester, in Yorkshire and Lancashire, and in London. One can also confirm one thing, every boy who rides these rings is eager to win because there is no ‘close’ corner, because most of the boys live within a few miles of each other.