Boxing bonanza at Hackney Museum

Get ready to rumble with knockout exhibition celebrating sport’s link with East End

An exhibition packing a real punch opens at Hackney Museum on (Thursday)

It charts the East End’s long-established links with the sport of boxing.

The noble art has been closely associated with the area over the past three hundred years from unlicensed bare knuckle fights on Hackney Marshes to a production line of amateur and professional title-holders and champions.

Seen as escape route out of poverty, many of those who achieved success in the sport gained their skills as youngsters in the boxing sections of the many boys’ clubs which sprung up in the 30’s and 40’s and which are still churning out champs today.

Organised by the London Ex-Boxers Association, the exhibition celebrates the social history and rich heritage of Hackney’s pugilistic past.

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London Ex-Boxers’ Association chairman, Charlie Wright, said: “For the first time the boxing heritage of the East End of London will be told through the lives of the people who boxed, trained or worked with boxing.”

The exhibition lets visitors admire legendary memorabilia such as the dressing gown of legendary British flyweight boxing champion, Terry Spinks, who won a gold medal aged just 18 at the Melbourne Olympics in 1956 and Mickey Pye’s bronze medal from the 1962 Commonwealth Games.

Other attractions include the chance to speak with boxing icons James CookeJ MBE, the former British and European supermiddlewight champion and lightweight Ron Cooper, who competed in the last Olympics to be held in Britain in 1948. Visitors also have the opportunity to take part in activities such as limbering up with a boxing training video, or sitting in an old pugilist’s living room reading stories about old East End Boxers.

Hackney Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Services, Jonathan McShane said: “Boxing played a major part in the lives of many Hackney people and it’s an integral part of Hackney’s social history. The exhibition tells a story that will interest people young and old.”

The exhibition runs for 13 weeks until April 30.