May 23 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, January 3, 2013
At the Repton BC Gym in the heart of Bethnal Green, Michael Oates is just one of their national title-holders going through his paces – while just a few yards away his grandad Mick looks on.
The youngster has earned his place in the club record books as the 30kg National Schools’ champion of 2012, but grandad can smile as he recalls the days when he almost wrecked the ambitions of one of Repton’s all-time heroes.
It was over 40 years ago when John H Stracey was a teenage star of the 1960s, who went on to win a world title in the next decade.
Oates was just a strong novice at the rival West Ham BC and looked upon as another victim for the fast-rising Stracey on the ABA title trail.
However, the outsider did not respect any reputation as he unleashed a tremendous, first-round left hook, which dropped Stracey to the canvas in their ABA championship clash.
The hot favourite came back strongly to triumph, but the knockdown had made Oates’ reputation as a punching prospect and earned the respect that carried him through his ring career.
“I guess I would not have been too popular at Repton after the Stracey contest, but that was a long time ago and young Michael has certainly done well at the club,” smiled Oates.
After his amateur spell at West Ham, Mick turned professional, fighting around 20 contests against some of the toughest lightweights around, while never matching the success of his old amateur rival.
Oates retired in 1972 when Stracey was still rising through the pro ranks, and three years away from his biggest victory, when he took the world welterweight title from the legendary Jose Napoles in Mexico City.
After quitting the fight game, Oates enjoyed spells as a publican and a cab driver, before a grandson eager to follow in his footsteps, brought him back to the boxing gym.
Certainly the youngster has done him proud, sweeping all before him on the National Schools’ title trail in 2012 to win the Class One 30kg championship.
With good form in a couple of club appearances this season, he is building up to launch his bid for a second national award as the 2013 championships get underway early in the new year.
He has set his sights on the Class Two 34kg award – and you can bet grandad will be cheering him all the way.