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The brawl in Porthcawl: Dick Richardson v Brian London

By Sean Davies

The brawl in Porthcawl: Dick Richardson v Brian London

29 August, 1960: Coney Beach Arena in Porthcawl was the unlikely venue for one of the most notorious nights in British boxing history.

The 'Blackpool Rock' Brian London challenged Newport's Dick Richardson in a bad-tempered brawl, but it was the post-fight chaos that caused outrage.

Richardson - always a controversial character - had sparked a riot in Germany five months earlier when he stopped Hans Kaldfell to win the vacant title.

The Welshman had legitimately hammered Kaldfell to the ground in the 13th, but the Dortmund crowd were outraged when Richardson seemed to step in with the finishing punches as the referee administered the count to the recovering German.

Hans Kaldfell v Dick Richardson

The new champion needed a police escort to get back to his dressing room.

It was not something to overly trouble the milkman's son, who supplemented his income by riding a motorbike in a circus wall-of-death show.

Returning to Wales, Richardson faced veteran American Mike DeJohn at the 12,000-seat Coney Beach Arena that had been built amongst the fairground by Sir Lesley Joseph.

It was described by Sir Henry Cooper - who beat Richardson there in 1958 and Gawie de Klerk at the same venue in 1959 - as "a dump".

DeJohn dropped 26-year-old Richardson three times in the first round, before the bout descended into an untidy wrestling match.

The 'Maesglas Marciano' was disqualified in the eighth for a blatant head-butt, the outraged crowd responding my pelting the referee in the ring with chairs, bottles and other debris.

The misguided passion reflected the fact that Welsh boxing was on a high, the sport finding a fervent following in the country.

But a determined London, who had beaten Richardson in the amateur ranks during their national service days, arrived in Porthcawl on the comeback trail.

The 26-year-old had won the British and Commonwealth titles with an eighth-round stoppage of Cardiff's champion Joe Erskine in 1958.

Those titles went in his first defence the following year, a 15-round points defeat to Cooper.

Hartlepool-born London was then stopped in a challenge for Floyd Patterson's world title and, in his next fight, fell to world-class Cuban Nino Valdes.

An April 1960 win over Pete Rademacher got the Englishman back on track, though, and he scented the chance to get back amongst the big money by taking Richardson's European crown.

The bout between the two fiery characters was predictably bad tempered, and heated up even further at the end of the seventh when London was cut by what he claimed was a head-butt.

The Englishman appeared to drive at his opponent before the bell had even sounded to herald an out-of-control eighth round, the furious London shouting continuously at Richardson as he tried desperately to knock out his opponent.

Dick Richardson v Brian London: The eighth round

Heads, fists and elbows continued to clash, further bloodying London's features, and at the end of the round referee Andrew Smyth stopped the challenger because of his cuts.

And then the carnage really began.

London threw a punch at Richardson's trainer Johnny Lewis, sparking a shocking mass brawl between the seconds from both corners, including London's father - former British and Commonwealth heavyweight champion Jack.

The referee, ring announcer and spectators were sucked in, before the melee was eventually broken up by the police.

The unflappable Richardson remained on his stool, shielded by cornermen.

"Am I annoyed? Wouldn't you be," raged a furious London - who was later fined £1,000 by the British Boxing Board of Control - in the post-brawl interviews.

"I'd licked him by a 1,000 miles, it was my second who stopped the fight.

"I had the European Championship in my grasp, [I'm thinking] I'm back at the top, I've licked him, I've well licked him.

"I won every round easily. To me he's a novice, I made him look like a novice.

"When it was finished I went over to shake hands with Richardson and some little fellow took a swing at me.

"I don't mind Richardson coming at me, I'll fight him anywhere, but I'm not having some little [fellow] taking punches at me, so I had a go back.

"I'll fight [Richardson] again with a £5,000 side-stake and we can have butting legal so we can both use the head but not just him - that's not fair."

In his interview Richardson shrugged off the controversy.

"I was well satisfied with myself and I boxed to orders [from my camp]," said the Welshman.

"[London's] a very good fighter, he's hard, tough, he can punch... but I'm a bit better.

"My targets are Floyd Patterson and the world title. I think I'm in sufficient form - I'm the best in Europe."

Richardson never got that world title chance.

He made a successful defence of his European title against old foe Kalbfell in Dortmund, before returning to the city for a stunning first-round stoppage of another German, Karl Mildenberger.

Richardson was stopped in his fourth defence, falling to former world champion Ingemar Johansson before 50,000 fans in Gothenburg.

The Welshman ended his career after his next bout, a fifth-round loss against Cooper in a challenge for the British and Commonwealth crowns.

Aged just 28 and with a record showing 31 wins, 14 defeats and two draws, Richardson opened a butcher's shop in Surrey and prospered until his death from lung cancer in 1999, at the age of 65.

Brian London (left) v Muhammad Ali
Brian London (left) v Muhammad Ali

London had 10 years left of his career after the Porthcawl carnage, his record in that time reading like a who's-who of heavyweight boxing, although he rarely won in the highest class.

He was defeated by the likes of Cooper, Johansson, Jerry Quarry (twice) and Joe Bugner, the latter in London's final fight.

Most famously, London gained a second world title shot, challenging Muhammad Ali at Earls Court Arena in 1966.

'The Greatest' was at his peak, and broke the Blackpool Rock in three one-sided rounds.

London retired at the age of 35 with a record of 37 wins, 20 losses and one draw, and went on to run nightclubs in Blackpool, where he still lives.

see also
Wales' pugilist princes
15 May 09 |  Boxing
Wales' boxing history in photos
24 May 09 |  Boxing
Cardiff's greatest fight nights
04 Jun 10 |  Boxing
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales

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