Life in the Ring
Life in the Ring

also honoured...

Fred ‘Nosher’ POWELL

26 April 1972

Heavyweight boxer and stuntman

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Muhammad Ali

Bella Burge

Harry Carpenter

John Conteh

Henry Cooper

Richard Dunn

Sammy McCarthy

Freddie Mills

Glen Moody

Jack Petersen

Alan Rudkin

Boxing was a sport close to the heart of more than one member of the This Is Your Life production team. Eamonn Andrews began his career as an amateur boxer before becoming a sports commentator. And at least one long-time producer had close links with the sport.

So, from flyweight to heavyweight, with a couple of wrestlers and a boxing manager roped in for good measure, here’s a look at those who received the Big Red Book* treatment...

Sammy McCarthy Sammy McCarthy Sammy McCARTHY
4 March 1957
The British featherweight champion of 1955/6 became the show’s first boxer - and at the time, aged 25, the youngest subject - when Eamonn surprised Sammy at the King’s Theatre, Hammersmith.
The tribute includes a brief appearance from Sammy's six sisters – known within the family as 'Sammy’s slaves'.
  Jack Petersen Jack PETERSEN
16 December 1957
Jack - the first Welshman to hold the British heavyweight boxing title - was surprised by Eamonn at the Memorial Hall in Barry.
Jack held the title on two separate occasions as well as gaining the Commonwealth heavyweight title in 1934. His tribute includes a filmed message from American boxer, Jack Dempsey.
Bella Burge Bella Burge Bella BURGE
20 October 1958
The former music hall star turned boxing promoter was surprised by Eamonn in the audience of the BBC Television Theatre.
'Bella of Blackfriars' - as she was known - ran the highly popular and renowned boxing venue, The Ring, which she established with her husband, the former boxer, Dick Burge.
Freddie Mills Freddie Mills Freddie MILLS
2 January 1961
The world light heavyweight champion was surprised by Eamonn at London's Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre.
Freddie was an old friend of the programme – he was involved with the preparation of the very first edition – namely that Eamonn believed it was Freddie who Ralph Edwards was due to surprise, before handing Eamonn the book!
  Glen Moody Glen MOODY BEM
12 March 1962
The Welsh boxer was surprised by Eamonn at London's Cafe Royal.
Glen - who came from a notable family of boxers and had won the Welsh middleweight champion title in 1930 - was also the holder of the British Empire Medal which he received while serving with the Royal Engineers during the Second World War.
Henry Cooper Henry Cooper Henry COOPER
14 January 1970
The first boxer of the Thames Television colour period, was surprised by Eamonn at the television company’s Euston Road Studios.
The enormously popular British Heavyweight Champion was treated to a live satellite link with his former opponent, and the reigning world champion, Muhammad Ali.
Alan Rudkin Alan Rudkin Alan RUDKIN
15 March 1972
Alan - considered one of the most gifted bantamweight boxers Britain has produced - was surprised by Eamonn at the Board of Control gym in the Noble Art pub in London’s Haverstock Hill.
Among those paying tribute are singer Gerry Marsden, Liverpool FC manager Bill Shankly and boxer Henry Cooper.
Jackie Pallo Jackie Pallo Jackie PALLO
18 April 1973
Jackie - the professional wrestler who was a star of British televised wrestling in its 1960s and 1970s heyday - was surprised by Eamonn while performing in the wrestling ring, where the show was then recorded! Known as ‘Mr TV’, Jackie was greeted by guests which include comedians Tommy Trinder and Bob Monkhouse and entertainer Lionel Blair.
John Conteh John Conteh John CONTEH
13 November 1974
Eamonn surprised the light-heavyweight champion at the famous Abbey Road studios with the help of Paul and Linda McCartney.
Liverpool born John was one of Britain’s most successful boxing champions, and his tribute includes guests and fellow boxers Henry Cooper and Joe Bugner.
Richard Dunn Richard Dunn Richard DUNN
28 April 1976
The Leeds born heavyweight boxer was surprised by Eamonn on a central London building site, just ahead of his attempt to take the world heavyweight title from the reigning champion, Muhammad Ali.
Ali appears on Richard’s tribute, via a filmed recording, while fellow British boxer John Conteh greets Richard in the studio.
Jim Wicks Jim Wicks Jim WICKS
8 December 1976
The well respected boxing manager was surprised by Eamonn at a hotel function to celebrate his 82nd birthday.
Glowing tributes are paid from various members of the boxing fraternity, including Jack Swift, Vic Andretti, Alex Buxton, Joe Lucy, George Angelo and Frank Butler.
Muhammad Ali Muhammad Ali Muhammad ALI
25 December 1978
In a lively and popular extended edition - broadcast on Christmas Day - the three times world heavyweight champion was surprised by Eamonn as he arrived at the New London Theatre.
Ali’s show proves to be a real ratings winner, and includes tributes from boxers Henry Cooper, Joe Frazier and Joe Louis.
Shirley Crabtree Shirley Crabtree Shirley CRABTREE
7 March 1979
Shirley - known to millions of television wrestling fans as Big Daddy - was surprised by Eamonn - disguised as the ‘Hooded Monster’ - during a photo-shoot at the New London Theatre.
Guests paying tribute to the ‘good guy’ of wrestling include his ringside opponents Giant Haystacks, Kendo Nagasaki and Mick McManus.
Alan Minter Alan Minter Alan MINTER
23 April 1980
Having recently won the Middlewight World Championship, the boxer nicknamed ‘Boom Boom’, was surprised by Eamonn during a St George’s Day celebration at the Grosvenor House Hotel on London's Park Lane.
The show includes recorded tributes from actress Joan Collins and Hollywood actor Sylvester Stallone.
Jim Watt Jim Watt Jim WATT MBE
11 March 1981
The Scottish lightweight boxer - who became world champion in 1979 - was surprised by Eamonn at John Conteh's restaurant in London's Mayfair.
Jim is greeted by racing driver Jackie Stewart, footballers Ray Clemence and Kenny Dalglish, and his opponent in the recent championship fight – Alfredo Pitalua.
Charlie Magri Charlie Magri Charlie MAGRI
23 March 1983
The Tunisian born British boxer - and newly crowned WBA Flyweight Champion - was surprised by Eamonn at the York Hall in London’s Bethnal Green.
Charlie's guests include comedian Freddie Starr, and fellow boxers Maurice Hope, Lloyd Honeyghan and Frank Bruno.
Terry Lawless Terry Lawless Terry LAWLESS
25 January 1984
Eamonn surprised the boxing manager and trainer at his base, above the Royal Oak public house in Canning Town - known in the sport as the ‘Academy of Boxing’. Terry trained and managed six boxers who went on to win world titles, including Frank Bruno, Jim Watt, Charlie Magri and Maurice Hope - all of whom are guests at the tribute.
Jack Berg Jack Berg Jack ‘Kid’ BERG
14 January 1987
Jack - who was known as the Whitechapel Windmill - was surprised by Eamonn at Kettners restaurant in London’s Soho. In a career that spanned three decades Jack had nearly 200 professional contests. In 1928 he went to America where he trained under the legendary Ray Arcel - and Ray travelled from America to be reunited with Jack on his special evening.
Terry Marsh Terry Marsh Terry MARSH
18 March 1987
Terry was surprised by Eamonn at Kingston Fire Station - his place of work - just two weeks after winning the World Light-Welterweight title.
His Tilbury white watch colleagues joined the tribute along with his ex-Marine friends, who abseiled down the studio to greet him. Commentators Reg Gutteridge and Jimmy Greaves also pay tribute.
Barry McGuigan Barry McGuigan Barry McGUIGAN
7 December 1988
The Irish born World Featherweight Champion was surprised by Michael at Teddington Studios. Barry's show includes tributes from fellow Irish sportsmen Dennis Taylor and Pat Jennings, and a recorded tribute from Barry’s boxing hero Floyd Patterson. The show ended on an emotional note with a clip of Barry’s recently deceased father singing Danny Boy.
Harry Carpenter Harry Carpenter Harry CARPENTER OBE
27 March 1991
Michael travelled to the Royal Oak gym in Canning Town to surprise the sports commentator - known as the BBC’s ‘voice of boxing’. Harry established himself as one of Britain’s most versatile sportscasters, and his show includes tributes from various sporting stars, including boxers past and present, with recorded messages from Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali.
Frank Bruno Frank Bruno Frank BRUNO
3 February 1993
The popular heavyweight boxer was surprised by Michael at the London headquarters of Central Television - with the help of comedian Freddie Starr.
Future opponent Lennox Lewis is a guest - along with entertainers Roy Castle and Little and Large, and the tribute includes a message from Muhammad Ali, and a letter from HRH Prince Charles.
Reg Gutteridge Reg Gutteridge Reg GUTTERIDGE
25 May 1994
The television commentator and boxing journalist was surprised by Michael in the foyer of Thames Television's Teddington Studios - with the help of boxers Frank Bruno and Henry Cooper.
Reg’s dreams of becoming a boxer were shattered when, on active service during the World War Two D-Day operation, he lost a leg in a landmine explosion.

*obviously the pre-1970 subjects were surprised by a different coloured book - see the Big Red Book feature for full details