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NEVER COUNTED OUT The Story Of Len Johnson Manchesters Black Boxing Hero

NEVER COUNTED OUT The Story Of Len Johnson Manchesters Black Boxing Hero

Never Counted Out!: The Story of Len Johnson, Manchester's Black Boxing Hero and Communist.

Len Johnson was one of the finest middleweight boxers of his day, but was barred from fighting for British titles because he was Black. In the 1940's and 1950's he was an active member of the Communist Party in Manchester, fighting against racism and discrimination.

Title: Never Counted Out! The Story of Len Johnson, Manchester's Black Boxing Hero and Communist
Author: Michael Herbert
Publisher: Dropped Aitches Press, 1992
Book Type: Paperback
ISBN: 0951952609, 9780951952603
Length: 123 pages

Condition very good (It has been read by myself & will show signs of wear and previous use & 2 pages have become loose)

Price: £ RESERVED SB3

Len Johnson Uncrowned Champion

Leonard "Len" Benker Johnson (22 October 1902 – 28 September 1974 (aged 71) born in Clayton, Manchester was an English professional middle/light heavyweight boxer of the 1920's, and 1930's, who won the Australian version of the British Empire middleweight title in 1926. Johnson (who was of mixed race) was denied the opportunity to fight for championships in Great Britain because of the colour bar that existed in boxing at that time. He was managed by his father Bill Johnson. Johnson fought on boxing booths in the 1920's, and from 1930 to 1939 owned his own travelling booth. Just prior to the outbreak of World War II Johnson briefly tried his hand at professional wrestling, but once war came he lost interest in both boxing and wrestling, and sold his booth. During World War II Johnson was a member of the Civil Defence heavy Rescue Squad in Manchester. Len Johnson was also a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain (joining the party in 1944 and later writing a boxing column for the party newspaper The Daily Worker), a trade unionist, a community leader in Moss Side, a local civil rights activist, and attended the 5th Pan-African Congress in Manchester. Following the Second World War, he was a co-founder of the New International Society in Manchester, which provided a vehicle for black political and social self-organisation in the city and campaigning against racism at home and abroad, including organising a concert and a rally featuring Paul Robeson in support of the Trenton Six, which were both attended by 10,000 people.

Boxing Career
Johnson was entered for his first bouts by his father whilst the engineering firm he worked for as a foundryman was on strike: he won his first two fights. Len Johnson had a long professional boxing career.

*1921: Len Johnson's first professional boxing bout was a third round knockout of Jerry Hogan.

*6 December 1922: His first fight abroad was a points defeat by Martin Hansen at Copenhagen, Denmark.

*15 April 1923: Four wins, one defeat, one draw, then a points defeat by Piet Hobin at Palais des Sports de Brussels, Brussels, Belgium.

*3 September 1923: Five wins, two defeats, then a points draw with Pat McAllister (Northern Ireland) at Dublin, Ireland.

*12 January 1924: Seven wins, one defeat, then a retirement defeat by Herman van 't Hof (Netherlands) at The Ring, Southwark, London.

*24 April 1924: Seven wins, three defeats, then a points victory over Ernest Tyncke (Belgium) at Premierland, Whitechapel, London.

*26 June 1924: One win, one defeat, then a points victory over Jack Phoenix (Ireland) at Croke Park, Dublin, Ireland.

*7 August 1924: One defeat, then a draw with Frank Burns (Australia) at Premierland, Whitechapel, London.

*19 August 1924: A points defeat by Piet Hobin at Antwerp, Belgium.

*8 February 1925: Six wins, two defeats, then a points victory over Charlie Ring (Australia) at Premierland, Whitechapel, London.

*4 May 1925: Four wins, two draws, then a points victory over Ernest Tyncke (Belgium) at Premierland, Whitechapel, London.

*15 June 1925: A points victory over Herman van 't Hof (Netherlands) at The Ring, Southwark, London.

*23 July 1925: A points victory over Charlie Ring (Australia) at Premierland, Whitechapel, London.

*31 August 1925: A points victory over Frank Briscot (Belgium) at The Ring, Southwark, London.

*9 November 1925: One win, then a points victory over Georges Rouquet (France) at The Ring, Southwark, London.



Johnson Then Travelled To Australia
*20 February 1926: A points victory over Harry Collins (Australia) for the British Empire middleweight title at Sydney Stadium, Australia.

*6 March 1926: A points victory over Tiger Jack Payne (US) at Sydney Stadium, Australia.

*20 March 1926: A points defeat by Sunny Jim Williams (US) at Sydney Stadium, Australia.

*17 April 1926: a knockout victory over Alf Stewart (Australia) defending the British Empire middleweight title at West Melbourne Stadium, Australia.

8 May 1926: A knockout victory over Tommy Uren (Australia) defending the British Empire middleweight title at Sydney Stadium, Australia.

*15 May 1926: A points victory over Tiger Jack Payne (US) at Sydney Stadium, Australia.

*29 May 1926: A points defeat by Sunny Jim Williams (US) at Lang Park, Brisbane, Australia.

*5 June 1926 a points victory over Frisco McGale (Jamaica) at Lang Park, Brisbane, Australia.



After Returning To Europe
*15 November 1926: Two wins, then a points victory over Maurice Prunier (France).

*6 December 1926: a disqualification defeat by Jack Etienne (Belgium) at The Ring, Southwark, London.

*22 May 1927: three wins, then a points defeat by Leone Jacovacci (Italy) at Velodromo Sempione, Milan, Italy.

*19 December 1927: Two wins, then a points victory over Jack Etienne (Belgium) at The Ring, Southwark, London.

*1 January 1928: a points victory over Piet Brand (Netherlands) at The Ring, Southwark, London.

*20 November 1928: Five wins, one defeat, then a points victory over Leone Jacovacci (Italy) at King's Hall, Belle Vue, Manchester.

*31 December 1928: a points victory over Ignacio Ara (Spain) at The Ring, Southwark, London.

*22 January 1929: a points victory over Sunny Jim Williams (US) at King's Hall, Belle Vue, Manchester.

*A retirement victory over Gerard Debarbieux (Belgium) at Liverpool Stadium on 11 April 1929.

*A points victory over Harry Crossley at Fenton Street Drill Hall, Leeds on 3 June 1929.

*A technical knockout victory over Marcel Moret (France) at Clapton Stadium, Upper Clapton, London on 21 June 1929.

*20 October 1929: a technical knockout victory over Emile Egrel (France) at The Rink, West Bromwich.

*A retirement victory over Louis Wuestenraedt (Belgium) at Granby Halls, Leicester on 4 November 1929.

*A points victory over Pierre Gandon (France) at Free Trade Hall, Manchester on 26 November 1929.

*A points victory over Michele Bonaglia (Italy) at King's Hall, Belle Vue, Manchester on 17 December 1929.

*One win, then a retirement victory over Leone Jacovacci (Italy) at St. James' Hall, Newcastle upon Tyne on 17 June 1930.

*A points victory over Pierre Gandon (France) at The Ring, Southwark, London on 13 October 1930, a points victory over Giuseppe Malerba at Free Trade Hall, Manchester on 21 October 1930.

*One win, then a points defeat by, and a points victory over Jack Etienne at King's Hall, Belle Vue, Manchester on 6 April 1931 and 20 April 1931.

*Two wins, then a knockout victory over Louis Wuestenraedt (Belgium) at Leeds Town Hall on 14 March 1932, Arthur Vermaut (France) at Royal Albert Hall, London on 27 April 1932.

*A points defeat by Len Harvey at Royal Albert Hall, London on 11 May 1932, this was billed as British Middleweight Championship bout, but it was not recognised by the British Boxing Board of Control due to the colour bar.

*A points defeat by Marcel Thil (France) at Palais des Sports de Paris, Paris on 31 October 1932.

*One win, one defeat, then a knockout victory over Rene Vermout (France) at Royal Albert Hall, London on 26 June 1933.

*1 October 1933: One win, then a technical knockout defeat by Eddie Peirce (South Africa) at The Ring, Southwark, London.

*12 October 1933: Len Johnson's final professional boxing bout was a points defeat by Jim Winters at Music Hall, Edinburgh, on 12 October 1933.


Johnson's professional career spanned 127 fights, including 92 wins, 29 losses and 6 draws.

Genealogical Information
Len Johnson was the son of William Benker (Bill) Johnson, a Sierra Leonean merchant seaman, boxer, and engineer, and Margaret Maher, of Irish ancestry (marriage registered April-June 1902 in Chorlton, district, Manchester) and older brother of Albert and Bill (both professional boxers) and sister Doris Johnson (birth also registered October-December 1924 in Chorlton, district, Manchester).