Sunday, May 01, 2011

Henry Cooper RIP

Boxer Henry Cooper died today, two days short of his 77th birthday.

Cooper grew up on Farmstead Road on the Bellingham council estate. He went to Athelney Road School in Lewisham, and when he left school he worked as a roofer in Evelyn Street, Deptford and as a sheet metal worker in Sydenham. He later recalled: 'In my day, if you came from a working class area, there were two ways out – football and boxing’. After amateur boxing with Eltham Amateur Boxing Club, he turned professional under the management of Jim Wicks.

Wicks opened a boxing gym above the Thomas a Becket pub on the Old Kent Road. Cooper returned there in 2008 to open a Southwark Council blue plaque and recalled that for 14 years from 1954 he trained there up to 5 or 6 times a week. He is also remembered in the name Henry Cooper Way, a road in Eltham.

At the time the blue plaque was unveiled, the pub was closed and functioning as an art gallery. Good news is that the Thomas a Becket has just re-opened as a pub - a pretty historic one, as mentioned here before it has connections with David Bowie, Burl Ives and the film Performance as well as Henry Cooper.

1 comment:

Raven said...

I've been reading that he was also involved in anti-racist work, and Hope Not Hate refer to him as a 'co-founder' of the Anti-Nazi League. Nice one but who knew.