Johnny Pritchett former British and Commonwealth middleweight champion SIGNED and INSCRIBED "Best Wishes" Boxing News collectors series black & white photo (No 92). Measures 5 1/2" x 3 1/2".
Condition excellent (minor top edge surface crease)
FROM BOXING TO BUSINESS
Johnny Pritchett left boxing before he’d hit his prime, but found success in the business World.
Boxing News21 Sep 2017Alex Daley @thealexdaley
The story of the washed-up old fighter who went on too long is all too common. Unfortunately, boxing is littered with examples of talented champions who tarnished their legacies by fighting on long past their prime. Happily, the 1960's British and Empire middleweight champ Johnny Pritchett wasn’t one of them. In fact, arguably, the boxing World never saw the best of the Bingham boxer, who retired just after his 26th birthday. What’s more, with his business acumen, he became a wealthy man.
After winning the 1962 and ’63 ABA welterweight titles, along with a silver medal at the ’62 Empire Games, Pritchett turned pro as part of the London based Bobby Neill stable, which boasted fellow stars Alan Rudkin and Frankie Taylor.
Two years after turning over, Johnny (16-0) challenged fellow Nottinghamshire man Wally Swift for the British middleweight crown. There were sure signs Pritchett was a special talent. He had shone in sparring against Terry Downes and likewise against Swift (while still an amateur). But Wally no doubt envisaged he had the beating of the inexperienced 22-year-old. It was, it seemed, an easy defence to secure the first notch on Swift’s newly won Lonsdale Belt. But the fight didn’t turn out that way.
In a close-fought battle at Nottingham Ice Rink, referee Harry Gibbs halted Wally in the 12th with a badly cut eye, to make Pritchett the new champion. “At the time of the closure, Pritchett was just ahead on our card,” wrote Boxing News.
Any arguments that Johnny had been lucky were settled 15 months later when he outpointed Swift in his second title defence. Pritchett’s first defence came in March 1966, when he thumped Nat Jacobs of Manchester to defeat in 13 rounds.
Johnny’s final challenger was Liverpool’s Les Mcateer, who would win the British belt after Pritchett retired. They met in February 1968 in a gruelling battle, often marred by holding. But Johnny rightly got the decision.
As the decade drew to a close, Pritchett (32-0-1) was flying high. The only blemish on his record was an April ’67 draw with Jamaica’s Milo Calhoun, which he’d avenged with an eighth-round stoppage to scoop the Empire crown.
In February 1969, he faced the Milanbased Argentinean Carlo Duran in a challenge for the European middleweight belt in the champ’s adopted home city. “Pritchett, a 5-2 underdog in the betting, had forced the fight all the way and appeared to have a clear lead as they went into the 13th round,” wrote BN. In that round, Duran emerged from a clinch with a badly cut eye and the ref halted the bout. Everyone expected a verdict in Pritchett’s favour, but after a delay, the official ruled the Englishman had been disqualified for an alleged headbutt. BN described it as “one of the craziest decisions of the last 20 years.”
The following week, our Letters page was filled with complaints from incensed readers who had watched the fight on TV. Everyone expected Pritchett to regroup and fight on. But instead, the 26-year-old retired. He started a business with his relatively modest ring earnings and by the 1980s was a millionaire.