FENLAND: First book on Chatteris boxing legend Eric Boon to be written

By ADAM LAZZARI ERIC BOON made history by becoming the youngest British boxing champion, 13 days before his 19th birthday, and then defending his title in the world s first televised boxing match. That title defence, against Arthur Danahar, from Bethnal

By ADAM LAZZARI

ERIC BOON made history by becoming the youngest British boxing champion, 13 days before his 19th birthday, and then defending his title in the world's first televised boxing match.

That title defence, against Arthur Danahar, from Bethnal Green, on February 23, 1939 is still widely regarded as the greatest boxing match ever held in a British ring.

Few are still around who will remember watching the Chatteris man's remarkable achievements.


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To ensure that his memory lives on, author Bob Lonkhurst is now preparing to write the first book ever written about Boon's life and career, 28 years after his death.

Boon died of a heart attack in Newmarket General Hospital in the early hours of January 19, 1981, aged 61.

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Mr Lonkhurst, 69, from Potters Bar, said: "There is an incredible story to tell about Eric Boon and I'm amazed that a book has never been written about him before.

"He was an aggressive, big puncher, a real crowd pleaser and his charisma and life outside the ring were almost as entertaining as is fights."

Boon has his first professional fight at just 14.

Boxers had to be 16 to fight professionally and Boon lied about his age.

After winning his professional debut, in Peterborough, promoter Jack Solomons signed him up for a show in Hackney.

But when details appeared in the local newspaper, Boon's parents forbade him from travelling to London.

Boon ignored their wishes and set off on a bicycle, intent on riding all the way to London.

He was picked up by a lorry driver who lifted him and his cycle on to a load of cabbages and drove him to the East End.

Boon drew that fight but had done enough to show Solomons he could be a real crowd pleaser.

It was a start of a remarkable career that saw Boon take the British lightweight title from Dave Crowley on December 15, 1938, and three months later beat Danahar with a 14th-round stoppage in what has been dubbed "the fight of the century."

That win earned Boon �3,215, a record for a British lightweight champion.

He went on to beat Crowley again and make the Lonsdale Belt his own.

Boon also established an acting career and featured in bit parts in Carry on Constable and Carry on Regardless.

Mr Lonkhurst has been a British Boxing Board of Control inspector for 22 years and met many boxing greats, including Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson.

Chatteris Thunderbolt: The Life and Career of Eric Boon will be his sixth book.

He wrote and published Fen Tiger: The Success of Dave "Boy" Green, published in 2004, about Chatteris's other superstar boxer.

Mr Lonkhurst said: "Eric Boon and Dave 'Boy' Green really appeal to me. These guys put Chatteris on the map.

"They tell a great story of training on the hard Fen roads and brining a small sleepy market town to a complete standstill whenever they fought."

Green and Boon have consistently been compared to one another and in one interview Boon, a renowned ladies' man, was asked about Green, he famously replied: "Dave Green is better than I was. He always trains hard, whereas I was more of a lover."

Green, who fought in the 1970s and early 1980s, won two European titles and had two world title fights, will write a foreward in Mr Lonkhurst's latest book.

He said: "Eric Boon was a superstar. He was earning fortunes at that time and he was my inspiration as a young boxer. He always used to watch my fights and give me lots of encouragement

"I'm really happy that this book is being written so this legend is not forgotten."

n Mr Lonkhurst is now carrying out research for the book, which he expects will be completed within a year.

Anyone with stories, contacts or information should contact him on 01707 659756.

He said: "I understand that Eric kept an extensive scrap book about his life and if anybody knows of its whereabouts I would really appreciate them getting in touch with me.

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