Trinity House Packs a Punch celebrates Leith’s legendary boxers like Ken Buchanan and Jackie Brown. This year, as part of Leith Festival you are invited explore local sports heritage by looking at archive photography from Scran being exhibited inside Trinity House.
Did you know the oldest boxing club in Scotland is Leith Victoria Amateur Athletic Club? Established a century ago, in 1919, it is still going strong. During the past 100 years the club has nurtured, trained and sent many a Leither into the ring.
One particular family who left their mark were the Bells – Alex, Eric and Marshall all boxed and Leith Victoria AAC even changed its name to Bell Gymnasium for a time. Above we see Marshall Bell, like his brother before him, he won the Scottish Light Heavyweight title in 1951.
In the iconic Leith image below we see Jackie Brown held aloft by an excited crowd on Lyne Street after winning gold in the British Empire Games of 1958, at flyweight. Brown turned professional shortly after this win, becoming a bantamweight boxer and retiring in 1966.
Also in 1966, Henry Cooper famously knocked Cassius Clay to the canvas and the referee was former Leith boxer, turned ref., George Smith. During his career wearing the gloves, Smith won titles at fly and bantam weight 1928-30 as well as representing Scotland.
Of course, there have been other hothouses for boxing in the vicinity, such as the Sparta Gym. Local hero Ken Buchanan was introduced to this gym in 1953 by his father, Tommy. Buchanan was an expert boxer and was the undefeated British Lightweight Champion from 1968-71, the World Lightweight Champion from 1970-72 (the first British champion since Freddie Welsh in 1917) and held the European title holder from 1974-75. He was British Sportsman of the Year in 1971 and made a M.B.E. for his services to British boxing.
Perhaps you used to spar? If so, there’ll be opportunity to grab a ringside seat and tell us your tales from the ropes on Wednesday 12th June. You’re sure to come out fighting!
Doors open at noon when visitors can see many more local sports photos from the past and chat with the guys from Sporting Memories Scotland too. At 2pm visitors can enjoy a tour of Trinity House with costumed characters from Leith Primary School. If you’re inspired by the archives on show, there’ll also be opportunity to try some creative writing with Citadel Arts, who’ll be in your corner.
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Images © National Museums Scotland, The Scotsman newspaper archive| Licensor Scran