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Death of promoter brings back memories of great fight nights

10:19 11 August 2011

Mike Barrett

Mike Barrett

Archant

The passing of former boxing promoter Mike Barrett at the age of 85 in Cyprus last weekend prompted memories of outstanding boxing nights which featured many local fighters in Kensington’s famous Royal Albert Hall.

Barrett (pictured right) is remembered for his partnership with local manager Terry Lawless as part of the group which also included Mickey Duff and Jarvis Astaire, as they dominated British boxing for three decades.

It was a link which started around 50 years ago when Lawless was a young manager guiding a small stable of fighters in a gym above the Duke of Fife pub in Katherine Road, Forest Gate.

The rising prospects travelled to get their fighting experience on small hall shows around the country – including the bills promoted by Barrett – a successful businessman just moving into the fight game.

Later Lawless switc-hed to the Raglan pub in Plaistow and on to the famous Royal Oak Gym in Canning Town, where he produced the boxing heroes like welterweight John H Stracey, flyweight Charlie Magri, light-middleweight Maurice Hope and heavyweight Frank Bruno.

Across town, at the famous Royal Albert Hall in west London, Barrett promoted the shows where the above quartet, and many more champions, built outstanding ring careers.

Lawless, a caring manager always reluctant to take too many risks with his fighters, was often in conflict with the promoter, a more aloof figure who did not need to mix with the boxers on a daily basis.

In their later years, the partnership lost their position at the top of British boxing as new faces moved in and Frank Warren took control to establish himself as the leading promoter in the land.

The former partners moved away in their retirement years and spent their final days in Mediterranean holiday destinations.

Lawless died on Christmas Eve 2009 in Marbella, Spain, where he lived for several years and now Barrett has passed away following a heart attack at his home in Cyprus.

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