After two months' rest, Baldock faced Gideon Potteau of Belgium at the Blackpool Football Ground, during August Bank Holiday weekend, before a crowd of over 10,000 When he scored a knockdown in the opening round, Teddy looked set for an early night, but then the effects of the very hard Pattenden fight were clear. Baldock struggled, and it was the eleventh round before the Belgian surrendered.
Meanwhile, Teddy received an offer from America of €2,000, or 17.5 % of the gate receipts, to meet "Panama" Al Brown, for the world title. (This boxer was known in the States by his prefix because another Al Brown was campaigning in the USA at the same time, but in Britain and in Europe the national designation was rarely used.) The fight was set for 17 September, 1929, and Baldock and his party travelled to the States and commenced training. The occasion was then postponed for two weeks, because Brown wasn't ready. Then, with just a few days to go, the lean and lanky black Panamanian asked for another postponement owing to stomach problems. Teddy was continually being messed around, and in the end his patience was exhausted and he returned home.
He was back in action in January, 1930, and beat Emile Pladner of France, who was disqualified in the sixth for a terrible low blow, which left the Poplar boy rolling in agony on the floor. Good victories over Charlie Rowbotham (rsf 11), Lew Pinkus, (points), and Jimmy Docherty (KO 6), followed, but although Teddy had won fourteen in a row, the fights were getting fewer. There were further negotiations for him to meet "Panama" Al Brown, but these fell through when Joe Morris insisted on getting €500 appearance money up front, Clear evidence that Baldock was declining came when he dropped a points decision to Benny Sharkey at Newcastle in September, 1930 Apart from problems with his hands, he was also having difficulty making the bantamweight limit.
Although he agreed to meet Alf Pattenden in a return bout at "The Ring", it was a non-title affair at eight stone twelve pounds. The fight took place on a Sunday afternoon (7 December), and there was not an inch of space to be had in that nostalgic Blackfriars arena. The fans were treated to another stirring contest, but it was never as exciting as their first encounter, because both were effectively washed up. Nevertheless, Baldock won a good fifteen-round decision.
Believing he still had plenty left, Teddy gave up the British bantamweight crown and issued a challenge to featherweight champion Johnny Cuthbert of Sheffield. Although the Board of Control approved the contest, the National Sporting Club officials were keen to match the Poplar man with "Panama" Al Brown. After a great deal of negotiation, the Central American agreed to fight in London, but on condition that it was a non-title affair at nine stone. Brown was a Fine boxer, and a veteran of almost 100 engagements, and several British fighters had failed to beat him. Kid Socks, who in 1924 had given Baldock a great deal of trouble, was knocked out in five by Brown in 1927, while Alf Pattenden (drew 15), Johnny Cuthbert (drew 15), and Harry Corbett (lost on points over 10 and 12 rounds), also failed to beat him. When he came to London to face Baldock, Al had lost just once in his last 48 contests. Teddy, however, was unperturbed, and was so confident of victory that he put up a side-stake of €250.
After warming up with victories over Gideon Potteau (KO 2), and Terence Morgan (points), Baldock faced Brown at Olympia on 21 May, 193I. Incidentally, the Panamanian was one of the all-time freaks of the ring. Although always able to make eight and a half stone, he stood only an inch under six feet. His tremendous reach was decisive throughout the first ten rounds, and he held a wide points lead. Realising that he had to do something special, Teddy threw caution to the wind and went out for a do-or-die battle. It was a fatal mistake, because Brown was a class fighter, and simply stepped up a gear. In the twelfth round, he floored Baldock for counts of eight, eight again, nine, and three before the fight was stopped. At the age of 24, Teddy Baldock was a spent fighter. He had just one more contest, and faced fellow-East Ender Dick Corbett at Clapton on 7 September, 1931.
During the first round, Teddy's left hand swelled up badly, and the right, which he had previously broken and which had never properly set, also became extremely painful. Corbett won easily on points, and with increasing eye trouble as well, Baldock knew he could never fight again. When he quit the ring, he did so with great dignity, and his fine record of just five defeats from 80 contests is a testimony of his fighting qualities. "Panama" Al Brown was the only man ever to stop him. Teddy remained a hero in Poplar and when he got married in 1931, the crowds were so dense that traffic in the area stopped for more than half an hour. People climbed lamp-posts and stood on roof-tops trying to get a glimpse of him and his bride. The reception was held in the fashionable Guildhall, and the wedding cake, in the shape of a boxing ring, was a work of art.
When he retired from the ring. Teddy had no trade to fall back on, so he turned to street bookmaking, which he learned with his father. Sadly, he soon got in with the wrong crowd, and lost as much as €100 a day gambling on the horses and dogs, 'Apart from the gambling, he was drinking heavily, and it wasn't long before his marriage broke up. He did have one stroke of luck in 1937, when a stable-lad at Epsom told him to back the appropriately-named entry Punch, in the Caesarewitch. The horse won at 50-1, and although Teddy picked up €5,000, the money soon disappeared on other "sure things", which were beaten. Apart from being a reckless gambler, Teddy Baldock was a man of great generosity. He did many people favours, but lost thousands of pounds to spongers who he thought were his friends. Many loans were never repaid, and once he was broke, most of his old pals disappeared.
In the later years of his life, Teddy claimed that his bookmaking venture and personal gambling cost him more than €10,000. Money from his boxing purses, which his father had supposedly been saving for him, also disappeared, and instead of there being thousands of pounds in the bank, only a few hundred were left. Teddy used this to get a pub, and for a while he ran "The Earl of Derby" at Forest Gate. At first he did quite well, but with the arrival of the Second World War, trade dropped off badly, and he handed the place back lo the brewers. When bombs dropped on to a row of houses near to his pub, Teddy gave all his spare clothes to the homeless. A house which he owned in Barking was also destroyed, and although he received €3,000 from the War Damage Commission, the money disappeared in no time.
During the war, Teddy served with the RAF, and was posted to Scotland, where he did numerous boxing exhibitions for the troops. In peacetime, he had jobs as a physical training instructor at Butlin's, worked as a steel erector, a labourer on the docks, and a messenger in Fleet Street. As he got older, however, jobs became more difficult to come by, and the old fighter went down hill rapidly. By the mid-1950s he had declined to such an extent that he was ashamed to let his daughter see him. When he died at Rochford Infirmary in Essex on 8 March, 1971, Teddy Baldock was penniless. The man who made more than €20,000 from boxing before he was 24, when such an amount of money really meant something, who owned a dozen suits and a couple of cars, who lived in the oyster bars and plush restaurants of London's West End, had nothing. In his prime he rubbed shoulders with dukes, earls, and their ladies in posh clubs, but when he died he didn't even possess a pair of pyjamas.
During the last years of his life, Baldock owned just one shabby suit, and slept rough on the streets or in dirty common lodging-houses in the East End of London. When he passed away, not a single national newspaper recorded the fact. The man who had thrilled packed boxing arenas for almost a decade was completely forgotten. The story of Teddy Baldock is one of the sadder sides of boxing. It reveals how the hangers-on are there when a fighter is at his peak, yet vanish into the darkness when the money runs out. Modern-day champions would do well to remember the plight of "The Pride of Poplar", The funeral of the once great champion was held at Southend, and his ashes were interred in the Garden of Remembrance at Southend - on - Sea Crematorium.
I hope that this brief insight into my grandfather's life will have been of interest to anyone visiting this site. It does however only scratch the surface of his fascinating life. My Grandfather's biography Teddy Baldock - The Pride of Poplar is now available in Hardback for €16.99 incl P&P. Please request a copy of the book via this sites contact page.