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Brian London

  (Redirected from Brian Harper (boxer))

Brian Sidney Harper (born 19 June 1934), known professionally as Brian London, is an English retired 20th century heavyweight boxer.[1] He was the British and Commonwealth heavyweight champion from 1958 to 1959, and twice challenged for the world heavyweight title, losing to Floyd Patterson in 1959 and Muhammad Ali in 1966, both times via knockout. He was one of a quartet of British boxers, with Henry Cooper, Joe Erskine, and Dick Richardson, who dominated the British boxing scene throughout the 1950s and 1960s.

Brian London
Muhammad Ali fights Brian London on August 6, 1966.jpg
London fighting Muhammad Ali in 1966
Real nameBrian Sydney Harper
Nickname(s)The Blackpool Rock
The British Bulldog
Born (1934-06-19) 19 June 1934 (age 85)
West Hartlepool, County Durham, England
Boxing record
Total fights58
Wins by KO26
No contests0

An orthodox fighter, London was 6 feet tall and fought at about 14 stone 9 pounds (205 pounds). His nicknames in the ring were "The British Bulldog" and "The Blackpool Rock".

Early careerEdit

London was born in West Hartlepool, County Durham, in 1934, and moved to Blackpool when he was 16 years old, where he has lived ever since.[2] His father, Jack London, beat Freddie Mills in 1944 to win the British heavyweight title. He also had a brother, Jack junior, who fought as a light-heavyweight. London fought as an amateur before turning professional in 1955.[3] He made a good start to his career, winning his first twelve bouts, one of which was against RAF light heavyweight boxer Brian Wiltshire (UK) in 1951. He finally lost when he came up against Henry Cooper in May 1956. Cooper stopped him with a technical knockout in the first round.[3] Following this defeat, London continued his winning run, apart from two ten-round point defeats, against Heinz Neuhaus in Dortmund, in 1957 and against the talented American, Willie Pastrano in February 1958.[3]

British heavyweight titleEdit

In June 1958, London fought Joe Erskine, the Welsh boxer, for the British and Commonwealth heavyweight titles. The fight was at the White City Stadium, London, and London took the titles with an eighth-round knockout. He followed this in September with a revenge win against Willie Pastrano, by a technical knockout in the fifth round. On 12 January 1959, London lost his titles in a fight against Henry Cooper, losing for the second time to the Londoner by a points decision after fifteen rounds.[3][4]

World title fightEdit

In May 1959 he was given the chance of a world title fight against current champion Floyd Patterson, but he lost the bout in Indianapolis by a knockout in the eleventh. He also lost to the Cuban Nino Valdez later that year, by a technical knockout in the seventh. However, in January 1960, London bounced back when he beat the American Pete Rademacher by a knockout in the seventh.[3] Rademacher had made history by being the only man to fight for the world heavyweight championship on his professional debut, losing to Floyd Patterson.

Further domestic careerEdit

In August 1960, London challenged Dick Richardson for his European heavyweight title, but lost the bout in Porthcawl, Wales on a technical knockout in the eighth. This result provoked a brawl, when London's father and brother invaded the ring to protest that Richardson had used his head to open a cut on his opponent. When Richardson's trainer shouted a few remarks at London, London replied with an impressive combination of blows, decking him, and chaos broke out. As a result of the incident, London was fined by the British Boxing Board of Control.

In October 1961, London lost to the American, Eddie Machen by a technical knockout in the tenth, and in April 1963, he lost to the Swede, Ingemar Johansson on points over twelve rounds.

He fought Henry Cooper for the third time in February 1964, when he challenged for his British and Commonwealth titles, as well as the vacant European title. The fight took place in Manchester, and Cooper won on points after fifteen rounds.[3]

His next fight of note was in March 1965, against the young "Golden Boy" of British boxing, Billy Walker. London won on points after ten rounds.

Second world title fight vs Muhammad AliEdit

On 6 August 1966 London fought for the World Heavyweight Championship for the second time at the age of 32, when Muhammad Ali came to defend his title at Earl's Court Exhibition Hall in England. Ali at 24 years old with the advantages of height, weight, reach and youth on his side, put on a masterful performance against a clearly out-classed opponent, almost hitting London at will as the fight went on. As London put it in an interview with the BBC: "he was just getting through all the time". Ali bouncingly circled continually, whilst London tracked doggedly after him for the first two rounds seemingly with a strategy of trying to land a single knock-out punch to the American champion. London succeeded in landing only one blow in the match, a left jab to Ali's jaw midway through the 1st Round which caught Ali by surprise and left him for a moment stunned (and wide-open for a follow through right cross, which London failed to take advantage of), but the blow lacked weight and Ali was able to quickly recover. On coming out for the 3rd Round London displayed a patent degree of hesitation to come forward to engage, and Ali sensing this advanced to the attack flashly, penning him back into a corner and throwing a 12-punch combination in 3 seconds in a showboating display of speed and athleticism, but with a suspicion of Ali holding back, with few of the blows actually connecting or possessing weight behind them, and the one blow that did (the 10th) being just enough to knock London down and end the fight.[5]

In a post-career media interview London described his contest with Ali in stark terms, describing Ali as being:-

"Big, fast and he could punch, whereas I was smaller, fatter and couldn't punch. He stopped me in three rounds and that was it, I don't think I hit him. It was good money and I got well paid for it - that's all I fought for. Every fight I ever had I always had a go, but with Muhammad Ali I thought don't get hurt Brian, and I therefore didn't try, which was wrong, totally wrong."[6]

Later careerEdit

In March 1967, London next fought American, Jerry Quarry, in Los Angeles, losing the fight by a unanimous decision after ten rounds. In November 1967, London had what was to be the last win in his career when he fought the talented American Zora Folley. Foley had lost a world title fight against Muhammad Ali earlier that year, and London beat him on points over ten rounds.[3]

London had continued to fight when he was past his best, and in June 1968, he lost, by a technical knockout to Jack Bodell. In September 1969 he travelled to Oakland, California to fight Jerry Quarry for the second time, this time being knocked out in the second round.[3] The bout was unusual in that the bell was inadvertently rung as London was getting up after being knocked down in the second. The fighters returned to their corners and the referee, realising that the round had not finished, made them resume. London was then knocked down again and was counted out before the end of the round.

London's last fight was against the up-and-coming young boxer Joe Bugner, who would eventually take the British, Commonwealth and European titles from Henry Cooper. The bout was in May 1970, at Wembley, and Bugner won by a technical knockout in the fifth, signalling an end to London's career.[3]

Retirement and personal lifeEdit

After retiring from boxing, London became a businessman in his hometown of Blackpool, owning several nightclubs, and is still a fitness fanatic running 12 miles a day. Teetotal all of his life, in 2006 it was revealed that he was still only a few pounds over his fighting weight.[2] He is married with three children.

In January 1971 English footballer Bobby Moore was embroiled in what became a national media story when he and three other West Ham United players, Jimmy Greaves, Clyde Best and Brian Dear, spent the evening at London's 007 nightclub in Blackpool, the night before an important FA Cup match against Blackpool which they went on to lose 4-0, with then West Ham manager Ron Greenwood and the national media severely criticising the players. Moore later said of the incident, "I'd met Brian London on many occasions and thought it would be nice to look him up. I suppose we all realised at the time that we were leaving ourselves vulnerable".[7][8]

Like so many other boxers London continued fighting long after his prime. He was 22 wins to 3 losses early in his career but lost 17 of his last 33 fights. In judging London's career it should be remembered that he fought some of the best fighters in the world, including four who at some stage were world champions – Ali, Patterson, Johansson and Pastrano.

My dad was Jack London and I was expected to fight as well. I was never a great fighter. I was just really, really fit.[2]

— Brian London

In 2004, the British Boxing website listed London at number eight in a list of the top ten post World War II British Heavyweight boxers.[9] He is a member of Blackpool Sportsmen's Aid Society (BSAS) which raises funds for local charities and sporting needs in Blackpool.[citation needed]

Professional boxing recordEdit

37 Wins (26 knockouts, 11 decisions), 20 Losses (11 knockouts, 9 decisions), 1 Draw [10]
Result Record Opponent Type Round Date Location Notes
Loss 36–20–1   Joe Bugner TKO 5 12 May 1970   Empire Pool, Wembley, London
Loss 36–19–1   Jerry Quarry KO 2 3 Sep 1969   Oakland Arena, Oakland, California London knocked out at 2:30 of the second round.
Loss 36–18–1   Jim Fletcher TKO 1 10 Apr 1969   Liverpool Stadium, Liverpool, Merseyside Referee stopped the bout at 1:20 of the first round.
Draw 36–17–1   Henry Clark PTS 10 6 Feb 1969   Liverpool Stadium, Liverpool, Merseyside 49.25-49.25.
Loss 36–17   Jack Bodell TKO 9 10 Jun 1968   Liverpool Stadium, Liverpool, Merseyside BBBofC Heavyweight Title Eliminator.
Loss 36–16   Roberto Davila TKO 6 29 Feb 1968   Liverpool Stadium, Liverpool, Merseyside
Win 37–15   Zora Folley PTS 10 13 Nov 1967   Liverpool Stadium, Liverpool, Merseyside 49.75-48.75.
Win 36–15   James J. Woody PTS 10 15 Aug 1967   Liverpool Stadium, Liverpool, Merseyside 49.25-49.
Loss 35–15   Jerry Quarry UD 10 9 Mar 1967   Olympic Auditorium, Los Angeles, California 1-8, 2-8, 2-9.
Loss 35–14   Muhammad Ali KO 3 6 Aug 1966   Earls Court Arena, Kensington, London World Heavyweight Title. London knocked out at 1:40 of the third round.
Win 35–13   Amos Johnson DQ 7 21 Jun 1966   Liverpool Stadium, Liverpool, Merseyside
Loss 34–13   Thad Spencer PTS 10 2 May 1966   Belle Vue Zoological Gardens, Belle Vue, Manchester
Win 34–12   Roger Rischer KO 1 20 Sep 1965   Liverpool Stadium, Liverpool, Merseyside Rischer knocked out at 0:50 of the first round.
Win 33–12   Billy Walker PTS 10 30 Mar 1965   Empire Pool, Wembley, London
Win 32–12   Giorgio Masteghin RTD 4 2 Feb 1965   Tower Circus, Blackpool, Lancashire Masteghin retired at 0:55 of the fourth round.
Win 31–12   Chip Johnson TKO 4 15 Dec 1964   Wolverhampton Civic Hall, Wolverhampton, West Midlands
Loss 30–12   Johnny Prescott PTS 10 13 Aug 1964   Liverpool Stadium, Liverpool, Merseyside
Loss 30–11   Henry Cooper PTS 15 24 Feb 1964   Belle Vue Zoological Gardens, Belle Vue, Manchester BBBofC/EBU/Commonwealth Heavyweight Titles.
Win 30–10   Bill Nielsen KO 4 2 Dec 1963   St James Hall, Newcastle upon Tyne
Win 29–10   Don Warner PTS 8 8 May 1963   Winter Gardens, Blackpool, Lancashire
Loss 28–10   Ingemar Johansson PTS 12 21 Apr 1963   Johanneshovs Isstadion, Stockholm
Win 28–9   Tom McNeeley PTS 10 29 Jan 1963   London Olympia, Kensington, London
Win 27–9   Von Clay PTS 10 11 Oct 1962   Tower Circus, Blackpool, Lancashire
Win 26–9   Howard King KO 6 14 Aug 1962   Blackpool, Lancashire King knocked out at 2:17 of the sixth round.
Loss 25–9   Santo Amonti PTS 10 7 Jul 1962   Stadio Mario Rigamonti, Brescia, Lombardy
Win 25–8   Young Jack Johnson PTS 10 26 Feb 1962   Belle Vue Zoological Gardens, Belle Vue, Manchester
Loss 24–8   Eddie Machen RTD 5 17 Oct 1961   Empire Pool, Wembley, London
Win 24–7   William Herman Hunter TKO 8 24 Apr 1961   Manchester, Lancashire
Loss 23–7   Dick Richardson TKO 8 29 Aug 1960   Coney Beach Pleasure Park, Porthcawl EBU Heavyweight Title.
Win 23–6   Pete Rademacher KO 7 26 Apr 1960   Empire Pool, Wembley, London Pete knocked out at 0:15 of the seventh round.
Loss 22–6   Nino Valdes TKO 7 1 Dec 1959   Empire Pool, Wembley, London
Loss 22–5   Floyd Patterson KO 11 1 May 1959   Indiana State Fairgrounds Coliseum, Indianapolis, Indiana World Heavyweight Title. London knocked out at 0:51 of the 11th round.
Loss 22–4   Henry Cooper PTS 15 12 Jan 1959   Empress Hall, Earl's Court, Kensington, London BBBofC/Commonwealth Heavyweight Titles.
Win 22–3   Willie Pastrano TKO 5 30 Sep 1958   Harringay Arena, Harringay, London
Win 21–3   Joe Erskine KO 8 3 Jun 1958   White City Stadium, White City, London BBBofC/Commonwealth Heavyweight Titles.
Loss 20–3   Willie Pastrano PTS 10 25 Feb 1958   Harringay Arena, Harringay, London
Win 20–2   Howie Turner PTS 10 10 Dec 1957   Harringay Arena, Harringay, London
Win 19–2   Kitione Lave PTS 10 12 Aug 1957   Greyhound Stadium, West Hartlepool, County Durham Commonwealth Heavyweight Title Eliminator.
Win 18–2   Peter Bates KO 2 1 Jul 1957   Engineer's Club, West Hartlepool, County Durham Bates knocked out at 2:14 of the second round.
Win 17–2   Willy Schagen KO 1 27 May 1957   Maindy Stadium, Cardiff
Win 16–2   Robert Duquesne KO 1 5 Mar 1957   Embassy Sportsdrome, Birmingham, West Midlands
Loss 15–2   Heinz Neuhaus PTS 10 3 Feb 1957   Westfalenhallen, Dortmund, North Rhine-Westphalia
Win 15–1   Werner Wiegand KO 2 19 Nov 1956   St James Hall, Newcastle upon Tyne
Win 14–1   Trevor Snell KO 2 27 Aug 1956   Maindy Stadium, Cardiff
Win 13–1   George Naufahu TKO 4 9 Jul 1956   Engineer's Club, West Hartlepool, County Durham
Loss 12–1   Henry Cooper TKO 1 1 May 1956   Empress Hall, Earl's Court, Kensington, London
Win 12–0   Jose Peyre TKO 1 13 Mar 1956   Harringay Arena, Harringay, London Referee stopped the bout at 1:10 of the first round.
Win 11–0   Jim Cooper TKO 4 17 Jan 1956   Streatham Ice Arena, Streatham, London, England
Win 10–0   Basil Kew TKO 2 6 Dec 1955   Harringay Arena, Harringay, London
Win 9–0   Prosper Beck KO 1 11 Nov 1955   Belle Vue Zoological Gardens, Belle Vue, Manchester
Win 8–0   Simon Templar TKO 7 24 Oct 1955   Middlesbrough, Yorkshire
Win 7–0   José González Sales TKO 3 7 Oct 1955   Belle Vue Zoological Gardens, Belle Vue, Manchester
Win 6–0   Robert Eugene PTS 8 8 Aug 1955   Engineer's Club, West Hartlepool, County Durham
Win 5–0   Paddy Slavin TKO 2 11 Jul 1955   Engineer's Club, West Hartlepool, County Durham
Win 4–0   Dinny Powell KO 4 6 Jun 1955   St James Hall, Newcastle upon Tyne
Win 3–0   Hugh McDonald KO 2 23 May 1955   Engineer's Club, West Hartlepool, County Durham
Win 2–0   Frank Walshaw KO 2 18 Apr 1955   Birmingham, West Midlands
Win 1–0   Dennis Lockton TKO 1 22 Mar 1955   Empress Hall, Earl's Court, Kensington, London

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Mee, Bob (8 December 2005). "Fight night in great tradition". Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 5 May 2013. Retrieved 12 March 2008.
  2. ^ a b c "Boxer Brian's book is set to be a big hitter". Blackpool Gazette. 27 March 2006. Retrieved 12 March 2008.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Amato, Jim (26 March 2006). "Brian London: He Did England Proud". East Side Boxing. Archived from the original on 20 March 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-12.
  4. ^ "Happened on this day - 12 January". BBC Sport. 13 January 2002. Retrieved 12 March 2008.
  5. ^ 'Muhammad Ali vs Brian London full fight', published on Youtube 18 January 2009.
  6. ^ Interview with Brian London, 'When Ali Came to Britain' (2012), television documentary made by ITV Sport.
  7. ^ "Blackpool 4, West Ham 0, FA Cup third round, 2 January 1971: Boozy Bobby's night of shame". Blackpool Gazette. 20 September 2006. Retrieved 12 March 2008.
  8. ^ "The Truth About Blackpool". Bobby Moore online. Archived from the original on 24 August 2007. Retrieved 12 March 2008.
  9. ^ "BBN's Top Ten post-war Heavyweights". 28 July 2004. Archived from the original on 18 July 2011. Retrieved 12 March 2008.
  10. ^

Further readingEdit

  • Riddle, John (2008). Hartlepool People: A Tribute to the Town's Rich, Famous and Infamous, Cormorant Publishing Hartlepool, ISBN 978-0-9558593-0-4

External linksEdit