By Shaun Brown
The spirit, the history and the magic of the York Hall returns on Sep 20 when the iconic venue hosts its sixteenth professional boxing show in 2014.
Since opening in 1929, the old lady has become one of the best known boxing venues in the UK and across the world. And later this month some of promoter Frank Warren’s young starlets will hope to dazzle and entertain as many a fighter has done in the hall’s square ring over the past 85 years.
BoxingScene.com recently caught up with Warren to discuss one of his fondest moments of promoting at York Hall and how important that the spot on Old Ford Road, Bethnal Green remains a vital part on the British boxing calendar.
“It’s very important. It’s the spiritual home of boxing in London,” he said. “If you look back over the years each part of London was and still is, in most areas, really working class and it gave generations of different ethnic backgrounds the chance to improve their lives. It’s very important from that point of view.
“For me personally I had my very first show there and back then it was tied up by the cartel. You couldn’t get a date and eventually I got one. There’s numerous memories of great fights going right back to the days when you used to throw what we’d call ‘nobbins’ into the ring. If it was a good fight, coins would be thrown in and fighters would get a few extra quid for putting on a show with a real good fight.”
And one memory that sprang to Warren’s mind was when a cult 5ft 6ins American came to town. His name was Johnny Tapia. His opponent was Eduardo Enrique Alvarez, who would be dispatched of in one round just three months before ‘Mi Vida Loca’ would win the IBF bantamweight title against Manuel Medina at another legendary boxing stage… Madison Square Garden.
“I have lots and lots of memories of the York Hall with boxers starting their careers but one memory which I do turn to, going back over the years, is a fighter I worked with and promoted and that was Johnny Tapia. I brought him over in 2002. It was a very emotional night with Johnny Tapia fighting at York Hall. The place was jammed to the rafters, he was overcome with emotion. That was a special evening.”
Warren may not have another Tapia to promote on Sep 20 but prospects Romeo Romaeo, Georgie Kean, Kirk Garvey, Louis Adolphe, Tom Baker, Gary Corcorn, Frank Buglioni and Bradley Skeete will hope to leave Frank and the fans with another York Hall memory one way or another.
Warren already has plans afoot for the likes of Buglioni and Skeete if their careers remain unscathed moving into 2015.
“I’m hoping Frank can get himself back in the game so he’ll be up there and I would hope fighting for a British or European title next year and Bradley I would hope wouldn’t be too far off a world title shot. We’re looking for all our fighters to move forward into better fights.”
Shaun Brown is the UK Editor at Boxing Scene and a contributor to Boxing Monthly. He can be contacted at [email protected] with any news, views or stories you may have.