On November 7, 1975, Boxing News published an article about Battersea’s Ray Fallon under the title: “Ray’s goal is to go out with a win.” Three days later, Ray stepped into the ring for his 100th professional outing with Mick Hampston of Lewisham at the Greyhound Hotel, Croydon. Despite giving young Mick a lot to think about, Ray was categorical. BN reported that “Ray never got hurt, and, true to form, was boxed in for most of the contest with a wide grin on his face. He ended the fight unmarked.”
In the end, Ray played and clapped his opponent before he received a warm welcome from Board Secretary Ray Clark himself. At the time, it was widely accepted that Ray would be the last of the 100-match pros, such was the situation. There were some great fighters around, but not enough shows were being staged for anyone to be capable of so many bouts, especially when boxers had short, and difficult, careers.
Fast forward to 2019, when in the annual British rankings, BN listed the names of eight boxers, who were then active, joining the ‘100 Club’, two of which had 200 or more fights. In the period from 1985 to now, but especially since the mid-1990s, many fighters became centurions, with both Peter Buckley and Christian Light having 300 or more contests. This group of boxers was led by Seamus Casey and Dean Bramhold.
In 1975 no one would have predicted that this could happen. The reason for this is due to the arrival of ‘The Travelman’ – ring-wise veteran, often boxed week by week, and to test the ability of the ‘home’ fighter. I have seen most of these boys myself, usually from ringside, and I can attest to their ringcraft. Most of them are far better than their records, and readers of Peter Buckley’s recent book, King of the Journeymen, will appreciate how much he needs to be able to play the role.
In football, joining the ‘100 Club’ is usually reserved for the best – 100 Premier League goals or 100 England Caps, for example. Making a first-class century in cricket is a sign of a very good batsman, and only 25 players have scored 100 centuries in the history of the game. In boxing, the opposite is true, as it appears that only itinerant, perennial losers, manage 100 contests. The most successful boxers rarely get close to that number, but this was not always the case.
The first few years of the 20th century saw over 100 professionals appear, most of whom had long careers in small halls around London. I have records of over 1,000 British and Irish fighters who have managed to join this club, and a very large majority of them have won far more battles than they have lost. Their true rise was in the 1930s, when 740 boxers who fought during that decade had won 100 or more bouts, of which 546 held the winning record. Many of them became British, European and even world champions. The most famous of them is probably the Lane Vikar, for which I have traced 471 competitions.
I would just pick one of these Boxing Centurions at random to demonstrate what kind of boxer we had in those days. Arthur “Boy” Edge of Smethwick, a flyweight and bantamweight, was active for only seven years between 1928 and 1935, losing only 37 of his 150 competitions. He fought two British title eliminators, took both the Southern Area flyweight and bantamweight titles, and defeated the champions with a cauliflower ear, before retiring in his mid-20s.
Every single member of this honorable club deserves great credit – Buckley, Edge, Fallon and everyone else, whether they are champions or travelers, winners or losers, because they are the backbone of the game.
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