Some parents may view boxing as a dangerous pastime, given recent publicity addressing the risks of head injuries in sport.

But over the years, many Oxfordshire youngsters have enjoyed the taste of victory – or the disappointment of defeat – in the ring.

The Oxford Mail has traced the progress of numerous young boxers from the ringside, including Desmond Brackett, of Blackbird Leys, in Picture 1.

He is seen receiving his trophy from the unmistakable Henry Cooper, the former British, Commonwealth and European champion famous for knocking down Muhammad Ali - then Cassius Clay – in 1963.

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Muhammad Ali and Henry Cooper fought two boxing matches.

Their first match took place on June 18, 1963, and the second on May 21, 1966.

Ali won both matches.

The first fight was stopped by the referee in the fifth round, and the second in the sixth round.

Henry Cooper Cooper was appointed OBE in 1969, awarded a Papal Knighthood in 1978, and was knighted in 2000.

He died aged 76 in 2011.

Young Brackett beat opponent Ian Mackie in the second round of his contest at Oxford’s first open-air tournament for more than 10 years on a fine, warm evening in September 1975.

It was held at the White House ground, Oxford City’s football pitch off Abingdon Road, and according to Oxford Mail boxing correspondent Ron Grimshaw, provided “a full measure of excitement, enthusiasm and entertainment”.

The Whitehouse Ground, built on Brasenose College land between Abingdon Road and Marlborough Road, was the club’s home from 1900 to 1988.

Oxford City now play at Marsh Lane in Marston.

Mr Grimshaw described Brackett as “a stylish victor inside the distance”, an appropriate accolade as he was later chosen as the best winner of the night.


In contrast, it was a chilly night when B Ryan, of Northfield School, Littlemore, left in Picture 2, and T Morley, of Gosford Hill School, Kidlington, clashed at the Oxfordshire Schools’ championships in February 1963.

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All the pipes had frozen at the Oxford YMCA building in Walton Street, but the cold didn’t stop Ryan gaining a points verdict.

Exeter Hall, Kidlington, was the venue for the bout in Picture 3 – Ron Putt, of Witney, right, is seen landing a sharp right on opponent A Bateman’s nose in 1983.


According to the Mail, Putt was “a novice with a big punch in both hands who hammered his way to an unquestioned points decision”.

Picture 4 shows competitors and officials who took part in a tournament at Berinsfield near Wallingford in 2000.


In the back row, from left to right, Roy Walton (assistant coach), Gavin Lissenden, Darren Andrews, Jason Grant and Mel Corrigan (coach), middle, Mark Sadler, and front, Simon Welsh.

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Picture 5, taken at a charity dinner at Bicester in 1980, shows John Doran, 18, of East Avenue, Oxford, right, on his way to a points win over Andrew Derry, of the Bicester Thistle boxing club.


J McGarvie, of Didcot, left, and C Bayliss, of Morris Motors, are in Picture 6 in a tournament at the Oxford YMCA building in Walton Street in 1962.


 Bayliss won on points.