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Birmingham boxers?


Super Moderator
Staff member
Anthony Rankins mother Emily Prescott had married Thomas Rankin in the year before his birth they later had another son Alan.
We cannot discuss this any further because it infringes forum rules on living people,Alberta
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Brummie babby
Hi I'm still confused about the sister as I'm sure there isn't one. Johnny definitely had the two brothers. I've been told a few stories about their up bringing and i just wanted to learn more about their parents and what happened to them. I feel proud when I hear people talk about Johnny and how well liked and respected he was, but very saddened that we was not able to be involved with him from a young age. If you could help me and give me any information on the parents as they're not living I would be really grateful there are just a few answers I would like to hear for peace of mind thank you


New Member
I've been given some photo's that my late dad had, as he was a keen boxing fan the photo's I have are of boxers.
Does anyone know who they are:

Roy Baird & Ray Corbett ring any bells (pardon the pun)?
I think their promotor was Al Lawley and the address on the photo's is 267 Icknield Port Road, B'ham 16.
My uncle Jimmy Vennell by all accounts was a brilliant boxer in his day...was born in Holliday st ladywood would anyone have heard of him please or any photos?
My uncle was Johnny Mann and he was a Birmingham boxer. He did very well from what I know and judging by the birthdate above I think this could be the same person. Do you know of anyone else from the Mann family or on the boxing circle as i am trying to trace info on my family who all lived in that area. Thank you.
Hi Susan,
My Uncle, Joe Nolan, remembers your Uncle Johnny very well. Joe boxed for the Mint as an amateur when Johnny was a pro and trained by his Dad.
Joe often told me that even the light heavies and heavies in the gym wouldn't spar with Johnny as he was so fast and hit so hard. He was totally dedicated to boxing and would run round Edgbaston Reservoir, including one entire lap backwards, every morning.
Uncle Joe looked up to Johnny tremendously and dreamed of being a pro himself. It was when Johnny fought Sammy McCarthy, either in a non title fight or shortly before he became British Champion that Joe became disillusioned with the idea. He couldn't believe that anyone could work that hard yet be so short of the top level, ( Johnny lost on a wide decision ).
Johnny fought 5 guys who had held British titles in all, beating 2 of them so he was certainly no slouch.
When I boxed at Birmingham City back in the '80's, there was an old character who was always in the gym who used to talk about flying to Switzerland with Johnny in the late '50's. Johnny was terrified of flying and, although teetotal, was knocking back double brandys and as a consequence came in over the weight - the only time in his career.
In later life Johnny developed diabetes and died dreadfully young.
Sorry if this is all a bit late but only just seen this post.


New Member
Hi, just created an account to post this and I know I’m a bit late but I was hoping someone might have at least a shred of information.
My Dad Alan Coles was a junior boxer in Birmingham around the 60’s. I know he boxed with Wilmot Breeden Amateur Boxing Club and I’ve seen that mentioned here a few times. My Dad sadly passed away in 2008 and I was curious if anyone has any photos or knew him.

Thanks for sharing these stories. It gives me a few hints on what I need to look at to see if I can find out anything abiut my grandfather as an amateur boxer in 40s and 50s. His name is Thomas Henry Howard. My aunt remembers going on holiday some time after my grandfather died in 1960 and met his former coach who had moved into wrestling. She does not remember the coach's name and nobody in the family knows any more about my grandfather's boxing. Perhaps boxers usually trained at the club closest to where they lived? Hopefully the Midland Sporting News has been digitised and is available on the British newspaper archive. Where there any other sporting papers specifically for B'ham amateur boxers? Also did the boxes have to register with an association which may have kept with membership details? Any tips aboylut researching boxer ancestors is most appreciated.


Ex-pat Brummie
Hi Retro Researcher,

Welcome to the Forum. I've just had a quick flip through the Online Newspapers Archive for both Thomas Henry Howard and Thomas Howard as a boxer during the 1940s & 50s, but drawn a blank. Having said that, there is little yet online after 1945. It may well be that Birmingham Archives have more material relevant to your research, but it is likely to be on microfilm or in paper format, and so would require a personal visit, though a very basic catalogue is online of about 20% of the collection here:- http://calmview.birmingham.gov.uk/CalmView/advanced.aspx?src=CalmView.Catalog

As to the nitty-gritty of boxing registration, I can't help, but maybe someone else may be able to.

Maurice :cool:
Thanks sospiri, your input is very much appreciated. After speaking to my dad we reckon his boxing may have been more the 30s. I've followed your lead and check the newspapers but no joy but I will check out the B'ham archives catalogue. When life feels more normal, I will have to visit the archive and have a proper rummage.