Founded in the 1920s Guildford City Boxing Club is believed to be the oldest boxing club in Surrey. Originally named Onslow ABC the club was formed by Pat Keens as part of the Evening Institute at the Onslow School in the town. The club achieved instant success & is believed to have immediately produced amateur champions although records are sketchy. In the late 1940s Keens stepped down & was replaced by Mayo Smith who was such a pioneer for the club that’s it’s new gymnasium (an old Marley building that had once been the children’s ward at the old St Luke’s Hospital) was named after him. Local fighter Denny Flack became ATC champion three years running from 1948. A year later big punching Brian “Dynamite” Davis secured the ATC & Gold Star (services) crowns.
In the early 1950s former British Light-Heavyweight champion Earnie Shackleton formed a rival club in the town named The Lion ABC. The rivalry did not last for long as Shackleton & Smith joined forces merging the two clubs to form The Onslow Lion ABC, a moniker that stuck until early this century. The merger heralded a golden era for the club as Phil Harrington took the ATC championship & won the Junior ABA title in 1951 & 1952. Harrington later became the Army middleweight champion & won eight England vests. Another of the club’s prodigies Percy Lewis turned professional & fought for the world bantamweight title losing narrowly on points & in 1956 Clive Fisher claimed the Schoolboy Championship of Great Britain.
Smith & Shakleton continued to run the club until the late 1970s when former Onlsow Lion boxer Antal (Tony) Drapos took the reigns. Drapos was joined by Billy Wright & later Arthur McIntosh & Alan Tombs. Wright & Tombs had both been professional boxers while McIntosh joined from Battersea ABC where he had had a distinguished amateur career. McIntosh remains at the club coaching to this day over thirty years after originally joining.
The club was going through a barren spell at the turn of the century. Amateur boxing in general was struggling & after many good years both Tombs & Drapos were finding it hard to make a success of things. At this point they were joined by two dynamic young coaches in Wayne Johnson & John Edwards. Johnson & Edwards were soon joined by Lenny Fletcher & following a change of name to the current Guildford City Boxing Club the most successful spell in the club’s history ensued with over forty national champions produced, most notably Billy Claydon, Eli Mathews, Felix Cash, Thomas Kindon, Michael Chalk & Naylor Ball winning Junior ABA titles & many national representatives. Cash, Kindon & club mate Jake Ball have since gone on to represent the Great Britain Podium squad with both Cash & Ball (who are young ambassadors for Guildford Borough Council) hoping for a place at the upcoming Rio Olympics. Johnson & Fletcher have since moved on to other pastures but John Edwards’ tireless dedication to the cause remains unflinching. His incredible achievements in turning the club into one of the most successful in the country have not gone unnoticed & he is now a coach for both the England & GB boxing squads. Edwards was recently awarded a Paul Fellows Scholarship by the Rotary Club in further recognition of these achievements as well as for his help in organising the annual Rotary Club Charity Boxing show which has raised in excess of £70,000 over the years & his work with Catch 22 an initiative that aims to find work & education for NEETS through boxing.
The club is currently in fine shape having moved to a new purposely refurbished gymnasium in Cabell Road, Park Barn in July. Edwards remains head Coach but is now assisted by newly formed Boxing & Management Committees. Guildford legend Arthur McIntosh remains at the club as do coaches Ben Harmsworth & Paul Goodhand-Tait who are both in their tenth seasons. They are assisted by Lewis Byrne, Jesse Eatson, Jimmy Lee, Joseph Smith & Jimmy Hearne while Harmsworth & club Chairman Kazy Kindon both assist further as judges. City welcome both male & female boxers from six years & upwards & currently have over fifty carded amateur boxers with numerous beginners & keep fitters as well as a growing stable of professional boxers including Jesse Goodhand-Tait, Eli Green, Thomas Kindon & Adam Battle (who is contesting the Southern Area welterweight title on Saturday). Former City representative Tyson Fury won the British & Commonwealth Heavyweight title at London’s Excel Centre last weekend watched by Ben Harmsworth who is also an Inspector for the British Boxing Board of Control.