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Frank Moody, 'The Pontypridd Puncher'

By Sean Davies

The 16 June marks the 85th anniversary of one of the truly great Welsh fight nights - Frank Moody's Connecticut clash with one of the finest fighters of all time, Harry Greb.

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Frank Moody (picture courtesy of Pontypridd Museum)
Sean_D

Amidst the pantheon of Welsh boxing greats, the remarkable career of Moody is remarkably little known.

I came across a chance reference to 'The Pontypridd Puncher' as 'a Welshman who had fought in the USA', and - on further investigation - was stunned at the variety and quality of the career of one of Wales' forgotten sporting greats.

The former miner, who lived from 1900-63, is known to have fought 203 times, winning 127 (69 by knock-out), losing 54 and drawing 15.

The record includes 52 bouts in North America (32 wins, nine draws), with victories over Hall-of-Famers Lou Bogash and Kid Norfolk and a showdown with middleweight king Greb.

Moody was the most successful of seven fighting brothers from Pontypridd and started working in the collieries at the age of 11.

His first known boxing match was at the age of 13 and he learnt his trade with fights throughout England and Wales, the youngster delivering some mixed results.

1977 interview: Frank Moody's brother Glen

At the still-tender age of 19 he was pitched into his 79th fight against Ted 'Kid' Lewis in Manchester, the great man outclassing Moody and scoring a first-round knock-out.

Moody battled on around the UK for the next three years, his record improving but still looking fairly unremarkable.

At the end of 1923 he headed across the Atlantic, claiming four wins in Massachusetts before landing a bout at Madison Square Garden against Arthur Cotter.

The Welshman stopped Cotter in the third round, and went on to build an eight-fight winning run on US soil before his first meeting with Bogash.

The 'Spaghetti Mauler' claimed a 10-round points victory, but, in a rematch at the State Street Arena, Connecticut, Moody stopped Bogash in the 11th round.

Bogash, also known as 'The Blond Italian', had been fighting since 1916, but this was reportedly the first time he had ever been sent to the canvas.

Victories over George Robinson and Jock Malone followed, securing Moody the dubious reward of a bout with the great Greb.

Harry 'The Human Windmill' Greb
Middleweight Greb was the only man to defeat heavyweight great Gene Tunney

Known as 'The Human Windmill', Greb is regarded by many as the greatest middleweight of all time and already had on his CV a devastating win over future world heavyweight champion Gene Tunney, making him the only man to defeat 'The Fighting Marine'.

On 16 June, 1924, Moody stared across the ring at Greb at Brassco Park, Waterbury, Connecticut, an Eastern League baseball park.

The task proved too great for the Pontypridd man, who was dropped by a right to the heart in the fourth round.

Moody gamely carried on but took a savage beating before being stopped in the sixth.

Six weeks later he dropped a points decision to Bogash as part of a four-fight losing streak, other mixed results following before Moody again shook up the boxing world.

He was given a bout against the formidable Kid Norfolk - who had two wins over Greb on his record - at New York's Yankee Stadium on 21 September, 1925.

Moody rose to the occasion, showing his punching power to record a fourth-round stoppage, a result he followed up with a victory over the well-regarded Larry Estridge.

He defeated Benny Ross at the Garden and claimed a good win over Lou Scozza, but the great Maxie 'Slapsie' Rosenbloom had too much for Moody, winning a 12-round points decision.

The Welshman's only defeat at the Garden followed - on points against the then-undefeated George Courtney - as Moody's US career entered its final decline.

Madison Square Garden
Moody fought three times at Madison Square Garden, winning twice

Moody lost to Martin Burke, claimed a win in Winnipeg, Canada, was stopped in a rematch with Courtney, then dropped a newspaper decision in another clash with Bogash.

Six obscure fights followed in America before Moody returned to the UK, a veteran of 172 fights.

But he was still just 26 years old, and the Welshman would soon prove that he was still a force to be reckoned with.

In Moody's second fight after his return to the UK, he claimed a 15-round points decision over Roland Todd at the Royal Albert Hall to win the British and Commonwealth middleweight titles.

He lost to his great Welsh rival Gipsy Daniels and dropped a points decision to Michele Bonaglia in Milan, but then won a 20-round points decision over Ted Moore at Covent Gardens for the British light-heavyweight title vacated by Daniels.

Moody took his fighting act to Scotland with wins in Edinburgh and Glasgow, before losing a British and Commonwealth middleweight title fight to Alex Ireland in the Scottish capital.

After some mixed results, in 1929 Moody lost a British light-heavyweight title bout to Harry Crossley in London.

But he was far from finished, claiming a win over Daniels before travelling to Hamburg where he drew with the undefeated Ernst Pistulla.

After another victory, Moody took a year off, before returning to the ring with a draw.

Tommy Farr
Two of Moody's last three fights were against Welsh legend Tommy Farr

A four-year career hiatus followed before the redoubtable Welshman returned to the ring with two victories in 1935.

Those wins led him into a bout with giant South African heavyweight Ben Foord.

The showdown in Pontypridd - Moody's 200th fight - proved too much for the Welshman, who was stopped in the eighth round.

Next up for Moody was a clash with Tommy Farr in Cardiff for the Welsh light-heavyweight title.

Moody battled to a 15-round draw with the Welsh great who would later go the distance with Joe Louis, but in their Cardiff rematch Farr stopped his veteran opponent inside four rounds.

Moody would don the gloves just once more, stopped in the seventh by Frank Hough in London in January, 1936.

606: DEBATE

So concluded a memorable career, one which surely contains many more hidden stories and memorable anecdotes.

If you know more about Moody or have any comments on his remarkable record, please post the details on our related 606 page - I'd love to learn more!



see also
Wales' pugilist princes
15 May 09 |  Boxing
Wales' greatest US fight nights
25 Mar 08 |  Boxing
Boxing & Madison Square Garden
04 Nov 08 |  Boxing
Wales' boxing history in photos
24 May 09 |  Boxing
Wales' boxing world champions
25 Mar 08 |  Boxing
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales


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