As Tough As Blackpool Rock - Brian London 1934-2021

They told me he was fast, they didn’t tell me he was bloody grease lightning!” That’s what an aged Brian London said to my Dad on Blackpool Promenade in the early 1980’s, reciting his famous line about his most famous night. Apparently with the same enthusiasm as that infamous night in 1966 when he took his shot at greatness.

I’ve known that story my whole life. It was as if the greatness of sharing the ring with Ali had rubbed off, the stardust descending from London despite him only being in the ring with Ali for 7 minutes and 40 seconds. The classic line mixed with his friendly demeanour have always made him, to me, somewhat of a folk hero.

As I got older though I found out Brian had had other fights, not just his tussle with Ali. Epics with Cooper for the lord Lonsdale belt, a tussle with Patterson for the world title. Fights against a who’s who of top heavyweight contenders like Pete Rademcher, Eddie Machen, Jack Bodell, Zora Folley and Joey Erskine. A brutal fight against Jerry Quarry and even a victory over one of the all time great light heavyweights Willie Pastrano. All this while not even mentioning an almost mythical post fight brawl in Porthcawl, South Wales.

Retiring after a loss to the rapidly rising Joe Bugner Brian avoided the traps normally associated with a post boxing life. He invested in several nightclubs, including 007’s, made famous by some England footballers catching tabloid headlines there in the 1970’s. He was wealthy and healthy, keeping up his strict fitness regime that included running 12 miles every single day.

Today I was deeply saddened to learn of Brian’s passing. After 87 long years he succumbed to an illness. Brian’s assessment of his own career was somewhat scathing, saying in later years; “I had a go,”. Although some may see this as negative, I think it is for

Me what defines the man they called the British Bulldog, and what in essence defines the spirit of this country. Brian didn’t always win but he always had a go.

Rest in Peace Brian London


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