Boxing legend ‘let down by managers’

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A NEW book claims Doncaster boxing legend Bruce Woodcock’s career was dealt a knockout blow by his own management team.

Fight expert and author Brian Hughes reckons the Balby heavyweight could have won a world title if he had been managed better.

The book, Battling Bruce, claims Woodcock was not well prepared to take on the big hitters of the American boxing ring, but British boxing fans of the late 1940s saw Woodcock as their great hope after he became British, Empire and European champion.

Mr Hughes is now calling for Yorkshire boxing fans to raise the money to pay for a statue of Woodcock, who in retirement became the landlord of The Tumbler pub in Broomhouse Lane, Edlington. He lived in Warmsworth until his death in 1997.

The author, who himself trained world champions in the 1990s, says Woodcock’s manager, Tommy Hurst, and his fight promoter, Jack Solomons, were out of their depth when it came to taking on the big-name American fighters.

Woodcock suffered his first serious defeat against Tami Mauriello in New York in 1946 but won more six fights back in the UK.

It was his second defeat to an American, Joe Baksi, in 1947 that put him on the path to retirement. The match was described at the time as ‘legalised slaughter’ after Woodcock’s jaw was shattered but he continued for another seven rounds.

Mr Hughes says the fight was ‘one of the most tragic sporting events in the long and disappointing history of British heavyweight boxing’.

“We were all looking for a hero after the Second World War and that was Bruce. Unfortunately he didn’t have the right training. It wasn’t his fault, he was as brave as they come. If he had received the right training he would have been one of the all-time greats.”

The author says Woodcock wasn’t cut out to fight the bigger American boxers and Hurst and Solomons ‘sacrificed’ him because he made money for them.

He says Woodcock went to give his family a better life.