"DASHING, BASHING, CRASHING" Terry Downes "THE PADDINGTON EXPRESS" former 1961 to 62 middleweight World champion original mounted and mahogany wood framed painting by artist F. Coppola, once displayed in the now extinct - Hamburger Heaven, Edgeware Road, London. Measuring including frame 12" x 11 1/4".
A tribute to Terry Downes – ‘I lived the life I wanted’
Looking back on the life and career of Terry Downes who has died aged 81, by Matt Christie and Daniel Herbert - October 6, 2017.
Former World middleweight champion Terry Downes BEM has passed away at the age of 81.
The Londoner’s nickname was “Dashing, Bashing, Crashing” – and no one would ever sue Downes under the Trades Descriptions Act. With his aggressive hard-hitting style, the Paddington battler thrilled crowds in the late 1950's and early 1960's.
His rough and ready, blunt-talking Cockney persona also earned him followers at a time when television was just taking off. Two years in the US Marines had toughened him up and early setbacks – he lost to future two-weight World champ Dick Tiger in a 1957 prelim – merely delayed Downes’ rise to the top, which culminated in a trilogy with Paul Pender.
Terry lost the first encounter in Pender’s Boston backyard on cuts (seven rounds) in January 1961. But he would get revenge six months later in London.
“The Paddington Express” didn’t have it easy though, and even in the build-up to his famous victory his notorious nose – which he labelled “My bleedin’ hooter” – threatened to scupper his triumph.
“Just my luck,” Downes would explain many years later, “on the very last day of sparring, about four days before the fight, I cracked heads in a clinch with [sparring partner] Wally Swift and tore the skin off my nose!”
Downes put a patch on the injury and faced the press; “I told them I’d been given a special prescription to keep on my nose for a few days because it hardened the skin. It was some special jollop made up in Harvey Street at a pound an ounce, I told them…
“Luckily, come fight time, we managed to clean up the skin and powder the ol’ nose like a pansy.”
The hooter survived and Downes, with skill and an unbreakable will to win, snatched the title in nine rounds when Pender retired on his stool. Back in Boston, he would lose their final fight – and the championship – on points in April 1962.
Five months later at Wembley’s Empire Pool, he clashed with another former world champion, the fading Sugar Ray Robinson. Downes took the verdict after 10 rounds. Afterwards he said, “I didn’t beat Sugar Ray. I beat his ghost.”
Downes – an underrated fighter in his day – went very close to a World title at light-heavy, troubling Willie Pastrano in 1964 before suffering an 11th-round stoppage. The loss took his record to 35-9 (28).
Terry, a savvy operator, retired following that defeat at the age of just 28 to concentrate on his investments in high street betting shops.
“I never thought of making a comeback,” he told The Independent’s Alan Hubbard in 2011. “That was as good as I could do. When you’ve been on top of the mountain, the only way is down.”
In later years – when he also found time for a 25-year acting career – he could always be relied upon for an acerbic take on the latest boxing action.
Downes remained immensely popular figure in boxing circles, and in 2011 referee and former fighter Bob Williams – alongside several others – campaigned for Downes to be knighted following the 50-year anniversary of winning the world title. After some tremendous work by the campaign team, Downes was awarded the BEM the following year.
Brilliant trainer Howard Rainey said of Downes during the campaign:
“I spent some time with Terry Downes in the 80s, just one lovely man. He would help any worthy cause, and must have raised thousands for charity.
“I will always remember a weekend away with him in the Lakes, for charity. We were going up the M6 and we stopped at a services. As we were going for a drink we were stopped by a guy from the AA who said, ‘Terry Downes, you gave me a lot of pleasure watching you fight.’ To which Terry replied, ‘You have given me a lot of pleasure too, when I’ve been broken down on the motorway and been sat there in the p*****g rain waiting for you.’ The look on the AA guy’s face was a classic.”
The final paragraph of Downes’ 1989 autobiography – My Bleeding Business – perhaps says it best.
“I’ve lived the life I wanted, been blessed with a good family, done all the things I ever dreamed of, from birds to booze. I haven’t got a lot of money but I haven’t got to go out and get any. I’m too old to alter. Accept me as I am.”
Terry Downes, one of a kind, is already sorely missed.
Terry Downes - "The Paddington Express"
Terry Downes, BEM (9 May 1936 – 6 October 2017) was a British middleweight and occasional film actor. He was nicknamed the "Paddington Express" for his aggressive fighting style.
As of 2008, Downes was Britain's oldest surviving former World champion. He held the World middleweight title for ten months from 1961-62.
Downes was born in Paddington, London. Despite a relatively short boxing career, Downes managed to accomplish a great deal, most notably winning the World Middleweight Title on 11 July 1961 by defeating Paul Pender at the Empire Pool, Wembley, England.
After an inauspicious first fifteen months in the profession, comprising 16 wins and 3 defeats, Downes won the British Middleweight Title, vacated by Pat McAteer's retirement, by beating Phil Edwards on 30 September 1958 at the Harringay Arena, London. In 1959, Downes lost and won back the title from John "Cowboy" McCormack. On 5 July 1960, Downes successfully defended the title against Edwards again.
Downes lost his first World Title shot to Paul Pender at Boston in January 1961. The following summer, however, Downes fought Pender again, this time in London, and defeated the American convincingly in front of a raucous Wembley crowd. Pender won the title back the following year, defeating Downes in Boston once more, this time on points.
Downes responded to the loss of his title by winning his next 7 bouts, and having felt he had accomplished all he could at middleweight, he moved up to fight Willie Pastrano for the World Light-Heavyweight Title in Manchester on 30 November 1964. Downes was knocked down twice in the 11th round and Pastrano retained his title – it was to be Downes' last fight. One of the most impressive scalps of Downes' 8-year career was that of Sugar Ray Robinson in the autumn of 1962. Robinson was, however, 41 at the time, and when asked after the fight how it felt to beat a boxer of such esteem, Downes famously replied, "I didn't beat Sugar Ray, I beat his ghost."
Downes was famous for a number of quips. After a particularly brutal fight early in his career against Dick Tiger, Downes was asked who he wanted to fight next. He replied, "The bastard who made this match", in reference to his manager at the time, Mickey Duff.
Downes fought six World champions and beat three: Robinson, Pender and Joey Giardello. His record was: 44 fights, 35 wins (28 KOs), 9 losses.
Life Outside The Ring
Moving with his parents to the United States as a teenager Downes served in the US Marine Corps from 1954-56. It was in the marines that he got his first experience in the ring, winning several amateur trophies. After his term of service, he returned to London and turned professional.
Post-boxing, Downes acted occasionally between 1965 and 1990, usually appearing a thug, villain or bodyguard. One of his more prominent roles was in Roman Polanski's 1967 film The Fearless Vampire Killers, in which he played "Koukol", a hunchbacked servant. His other film credits included appearances in A Study in Terror (1965), Five Ashore in Singapore (1967), The Golden Lady (1979), If You Go Down in the Woods Today (1981), and the Derek Jarman film Caravaggio (1986).
Downes and his wife Barbara were married from 1958 until his death in 2017. They had four children and eight grandchildren.
Terry Downes died on 6 October 2017, aged 81.