Peter Keenan 1950's British, British Empire and European bantamweight champion SIGNED black & white picture card, measuring 4 3/4" x 2".
Condition very good (has been trimmed down)
Price: £ SOLD
Scottish champion of the 1950s who was the master of the bantamweight division.
Peter Keenan was a leading bantamweight boxer of the 1950's and ranks with Benny Lynch, Jackie Paterson, Walter McGowan, Ken Buchanan and Jim Watt as one of the great Scottish fighters; unlike them, he never won a World title, but he was arguably the most talented Briton not to do so,
Keenan lost his only World title fight to the South African Vic Toweel in January 1952 and had instead to be content with complete domination of the European, British and Empire bantamweight (118 lb) class. He remains the only Scot to win two Lonsdale Belts outright, each awarded for three successful defences of his titles.
He was known for his ringcraft and technical ability, but could also unleash a knockout punch when the occasion demanded, and earned the reputation of rarely appearing in a dull match.
His tigerish determination was never more in evidence than in a bout against the Frenchman Maurice Sandeyron; Keenan was floored four times in the fifth round, but still fought back to force a draw. His British title defence against fellow Scot Bobby Boland in 1951 is remembered as one of the most gory spectacles ever seen in a domestic ring. The fight was eventually stopped in the 12th, with Boland, who had sustained a gaping cut following an early clash of heads, quite covered in blood. The sight gave several hardened Scottish spectators such a turn that they were forced to look away.
Peter Keenan was born on August 8 1928 in Anderston, Glasgow, and harboured early ambitions to become a jockey.
He instead took up boxing during the war years and joined the Anderston club. He turned professional in 1948.
After winning the British bantamweight title with a sixth-round knockout of Danny O'Sullivan at Firhill Park, Glasgow, in May 1951, he then took the European belt by outpointing Luis Romero - "The Barcelona Bull". This set up a World title challenge against Toweel in Johannesburg in front of a crowd of 25,000.
Despite clearly suffering the effects of altitude, the Scot fought with characteristic guile and tenacity, only to be outpointed after 15 hard-fought rounds. Although Keenan boxed on for another seven years and saw off a host of first-class opponents, a second shot at the World title eluded him.
Having made two successful defences of his British crown, Keenan lost his title to John Kelly at the King's Hall in Belfast in October 1953. It was a defeat he soon avenged with a sixth-round knockout at Paisley the following year.
In May 1952, a knee injury sustained in the fifth round cost Keenan his European belt, which went to his opponent, the Belgian Jan Sneyers. Leaning on the shoulders of his seconds, Keenan told the crowd: "Sneyers is a fine fighter, but he only has a loan of the title", and he duly went on to regain it with a points win over his old foe Sandeyron.
Keenan remained determined to secure a second World title challenge, however, and in 1955 embarked on a nine-month tour of Australia and the Far East. Having won the Commonwealth crown by outpointing Bobby Sinn in Sydney, he then made successful defences against good opponents such as the Zulu, Jake Tuli, and the South African Graham van de Walt, as well as Canadian boxer Pat Supple.
Keenan retired from boxing after being stopped in the 11th round by Ireland's Freddie Gilroy in January 1959. His career had lasted 66 fights, of which he had won 54, drawn one and lost 11. He then embarked in 1962 on a new career as a fight promoter, masterminding the career of the European middleweight champion John "Cowboy" McCormack.
During the 1960s, Keenan - by then also a successful property dealer - persuaded fighters such as Sonny Liston, Cassius Clay and Sugar Ray Robinson to box exhibitions at Scottish venues such as Firhill Park and Paisley Ice Rink, where he himself had sometimes fought before 40,000 spectators. He later helped promote the fights of Jim Watt.
Keenan, who had invested his earnings wisely, was once again forced to rely on his defensive skills in 1971 when his wife threatened to eject their son, Peter, from the family home after the teenager expressed a desire to box.
"My wife would like him to be a stockbroker," explained Keenan, "but I feel boxing is a cleaner life." For perhaps the first and only time in his life Keenan was forced to back down, and the youngster never fought professionally.