Date of publication: May 31, 2022
Stephen ‘Moggie’ Murray helps raise funds for a statue honoring boxing legend Jock McAvoy.
A local pensioner and fundraiser is ready to undertake a “bus tour” across England to help raise funds towards a statue of Rochdale boxing legend, Jock McAvoy.
Hamer Amateur Boxing Club has worked hard over the last few years to try to erect a permanent statue to “The Rochdale Thunderbolt” in Falinge Park.
After a break forced by the pandemic, the boxing club resumed pursuing its dream of a statue honoring Jock’s legacy.
Now, Stephen ‘Moggie’ Murray – who helped raise funds for local causes – will embark on a two-and-a-half-week bus ride to help raise funds for the statue.
Moggie’s first destination on June 6 will be Morecambe, where Jock defeated 10 opponents at the Winter Gardens, including victories over former Welsh area middleweight champion Billy Green and two Northeast middleweight champion Joe “Young” Lowther and Tommy Moore .
He will then travel to Carlisle, Darlington, York, Lincoln, Norwich, Grays, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Brighton, Southampton, Yeovil, Stroud, Birmingham, West Bromwich, Newcastle-under-Lyme, and Liverpool, before finally arriving in Manchester where Jock acquired 38 wins, including a win over the great Len Henry at Belle Vue.
Moggie, 68, said: “Jock’s achievements in boxing helped put Rochdale on the map, but nothing is shown to show future generations of our city how great this forgotten man was.
“Jock has become a legend in our city for our older generation. But if our community doesn’t express its concern about why nothing has been done to recognize this great boxer, then our younger generation will have no idea who he was.
“This great man has suffered from all sorts of mental health problems, just like me. However, he has achieved great things for himself and our city, but he is not yet recognized. We are doing this event along with other events within our city for try to get some form of recognition for this great, great boxer of ours. “
McAvoy’s glorious career lasted from 1927 to 1945, winning 132 contests while losing only 14, according to BoxRec official boxing records. Of those, 88 wins were by knockout.
Although born in Burnley as Joseph Patrick Bamford in 1908, McAvoy moved to Rochdale at a young age and began boxing and training in many gyms within the town, including Hamer Amateur Boxing Club.
Considered one of the greatest boxers of all time, McAvoy was never knocked unconscious in his 18-year career and won the Lonsdale Belt by defending the British title three times. It was a title he never lost.
McAvoy was awarded the British middleweight title in Manchester on 10 April 1933, after defeating Len Harvey in points.
They would once again face off in the British and Commonwealth (British Empire) welterweight title at White City Stadium, London on 10 July 1939, a battle that drew an all-time British attendance record of over 94,000 fans.
His greatest achievement came when he traveled to America to win the world welterweight title Al McCoy by unanimous decision after 10 rounds at Madison Square Garden on November 29, 1935.
Due to his victory over McCoy, he was in line to box the then-middleweight world champion, Eddie “Babe” Risk. McAvoy was tied against Risk in a non-title bout: McAvoy knocked Risk unconscious at the time of 2:48 within the first round after flooring him six times.
McAvoy was never allowed a rematch with the title at stake, but was offered the chance to fight the then world welterweight champion and future International Boxing Hall of Famer, John Henry Lewis in March 1936. Jock lost by points after a hard-fought 15 rounds.
Although only a middleweight, McAvoy also fought for the British and Commonwealth (British Empire) heavyweight titles against champion Jack Peterson on 23 April 1936. Unfortunately, he lost by points after 15 strenuous rounds.
McAvoy also won the British light heavyweight title in London on 27 April 1937, knocking out Eddie Phillips for the title.
Although Jock achieved great things within the ring, he also suffered from mental health problems when he finished boxing. He was stricken with polio, which was steadily deteriorating, and he was confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. He also survived both diphtheria and a broken neck before his polio diagnosis, as well as continued suffering from insomnia and depression. This led to regular arguments with his wife, Renee, who later abandoned him.
Jock’s mental anxiety gradually worsened, but his son Joe thought he had convinced the boxing champion to return to live in Rochdale. Jock agreed – but told JOE he wanted to spend another night at his Cheshire home. Unfortunately, Jock took his own life that night in November 1971, with an overdose of barbiturates.
Jock was buried at Rochdale Cemetery that same month.
Hamer head coach Steven Connellan said: “This is a great opportunity for our community to show their support on Moggie’s journey up and across the country to help with this great call to raise funds for a statue of Rochdale legend Jock McAvoy for our city and he hopes that many boxers, ex-boxers and boxing fans will show their support when he arrives at the different destinations along the way.
“This is a great opportunity for our council to sit down with us and try to support our community by allowing us to erect this statue somewhere in the center of our city to help inspire our younger generation and also help the city generate tourism.
“If we don’t manage to raise enough money for a statue, then we hope to get a bust or a blue plaque. All remaining funds will be donated to the Ringside Charitable Trust Care Home to help ex-boxers, such as my uncle Kevin Taylor, who suffers from dementia after he once fought at the 1984 Olympics and for the British featherweight title twice. . ”
Local builder Ian Lawlor kindly donated £ 1,000 to cover the cost of accommodation for each destination Moggie visits, along with Wright Interiors, who kindly donated t-shirts featuring Jock McAvoy and a small ladder for the tour.
Other local people also helped with the reason by donating money to help Moggie during his trip up and down the country.
Donations in support of the issue can be made to the following community bank account:
- Account number: 93160165
- Order code: 20-72-67