Nostalgia: Ringside seat for the history of boxing

The 14th Duke of Hamilton (right) in a boxing match with an unidentified opponent in 1923/24
The 14th Duke of Hamilton (right) in a boxing match with an unidentified opponent in 1923/24
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SECONDS out, round one. Boxing, or at least the planned Edinburgh charity bout featuring a novice police officer and former world heavyweight champion Tim Witherspoon hit the headlines this week.

Amateur boxing bosses condemned what they claimed to be a dangerous and “unlicensed” fight. The organisers hit back, naturally, saying it was nothing of the kind.

Ken Buchanan training at the Sparta boxing club in 1969

Ken Buchanan training at the Sparta boxing club in 1969

It’s all very different from the pugilism of old.

In the days before health and safety form-filling and doctors at the ringside, boxing was about as brutally honest a sport as you could get.

Two gladiators slugging it out, dealing with whatever punishment the other could deliver and sending it back twice as hard. All for the enjoyment, of course, of the suited and civilised audience who would not dream of stepping into the ring. Unless you are the 14th Duke of Hamilton, of course. The Duke, who won a Blue at Oxford for boxing and went on to claim the Scottish Amateur Middleweight title, is captured in our main picture taking on an unidentified opponent in 1923.

He, of course, would never reach the heights of the legendary city boxer Ken Buchanan. A fresh-faced Ken was pictured training with a punch-ball at the Sparta boxing club on McDonald Road back in February 1969 – the year before he would be on top of the world.

Featherweight Vernon Sollas with his proud parents in 1977

Featherweight Vernon Sollas with his proud parents in 1977

And of course, the Capital hosting the Commonwealth Games in 1970, only served to increase the appetite for the sport.

Two years later, we paid a visit to a 17-year-old Vernon Sollas at home in Wallyford with his parents in January 1972, having just secured a place in the British Olympic Games squad.