Southpaw Excerpt – Cockney Wankers

COCKNEY WANKERS 

The trainer at the club got me a medical card and said he was going to fix me up with a contest. I hadn’t really planned on fighting; I just wanted to train to keep my body and mind in condition.

southpaw-book-excerpt-cockney-wankersBoxing clubs are always the same, people were not expected to just come and train.  Like it or not, eventually you have to get with the programme.  I therefore found myself in the position of being put on the Saturday billing for the following weekend of a club show at the Savoy Hotel.  My refusal would have meant dropping out of the club and as I didn’t want to do that resigned myself to the inevitable.  I trained hard that weekend and every evening leading up to the fight. .I was going running in the mornings with Honeygan, who, it turned out, lived only a couple of streets away from me at the Elephant and Castle. The night of the contest arrived all too soon; arriving early I could see they were expecting a big crowd. Because the hall was packed with tables and chairs and busy looking officials guarded every entrance to stop people getting in without tickets. It was a black tie do with people such as Charlie Magri, Dickie Davies and Henry Cooper coming along to watch. It was clearly a special occasion as there was a group of boxers from the famous East End club called Fitzroy Lodge. Who proudly wore their clubs name emblazoned on their tracksuits.

My trainer pointed out my opponent who was a stocky skinhead, a bit puffy round the eyes, looking like he had taken a bit of punishment in his time possessing little piggy eyes and possibly an IQ of two.  He was a couple of inches shorter than me but very wide, well formed and more importantly looked like he could hit.  We were billed to appear as the tenth contest.

A few of the younger boys fought first and I helped the seconds in the corner passing the water up for the kids to gurgle and spit between rounds.  The trainer knew his onions, as he had been a good pro in his day. And was well respected in boxing circles. The advice he was giving the kids between rounds made sense. My personal opinion of him was that he was a pie and mash eating, Chas and Dave caricature, this did not go against him though as he managed to inspire his boys totally.
“Use your left hand more son … you’re catching ‘im every time…. Get inside, you’ve got him on the run now … keep in there.”
After a couple of fights, the trainer told me to go and get stripped in readiness for the fight. There was  a crowd of about 500, all getting drunker and more raucous as the boxing progressed.  The aisles leading to the arena were very smoky, the issue that pissed me off the most was not the cigarette but the cigar smoke. Fat wealthy wankers in dickey bows and dinner suits, sculling whiskey and betting on the fights, puffing on the thick brown reeking objects and emitting pollution into the air, perhaps as an indication of their affluence. On the way back to the dressing room a table full of pissed up knob heads with affected accents accosted me.
“I say young man.  Are you fighting tonight?”
I told them I was and showed them my name on the programme. They were eyeing me up like I was a piece of meat ready for auction.
“He looks like a strong boy.”
I hate people talking about me like I’m not there.  The same dickhead piped up again.
“I’m afraid I have already bet my money on your opponent.”
“Well, you’ve lost your money then.”
They loved that. Fighting Talk. Wankers, who had probably never been in a fight of any description, judging by their lily-white hands they were more than likely used to running to the bogs to whack themselves off at the thrill of seeing young boys punching the shit out of each other.  Hungry slum dwellers battering each other into submission to satisfy the selfish interests of the ruling class.

One of the other boxers helped me tie my bandages.
“Where’s your gum shield Jock?”
“I don’t wear gum shields.  They clog up your breathing. It’s bad enough trying to catch your breath without a big lump of plastic stuck in your mouth!”

I was nearly ready to get going my boxing boots and jock strap on, whilst my opponent, at the other end of the dressing room, didn’t seem to be in much of a hurry.  He had his shirt off and was warming up, so I watched his style. He was orthodox which was good for me as I’m a southpaw and it’s usually easy to tie up the jab of an orthodox boxer. It’s only when I meet other southpaws that my own awkwardness is turned against me.

He was a bruiser, a short muscular powerhouse. I figured that he would come at me  with all he had. Short guys have to fight close otherwise they will lose on points to a taller more scientific boxer So I would stay away from him at first, keeping him on the end of my jab, then I would be able to pick him off and wear him down. I would start moving forward throwing big lefts  In the third, I would pound the monkey cunt with both hands. Glancing at him discreetly to see if he was giving me the eyeball, as I didn’t want him to catch me looking at him otherwise he might think he had me worried and I didn’t want that.

The butterflies had started in my stomach and the adrenalin was starting to pump. I began to throw a few shapes but I didn’t want to give too much away so I faked being orthodox. I was throwing jabs with my left hand and pretending my right was the big one. The bastard was paying no heed to my show of bravado whatsoever and it was freaking me out of a bit. I understood only too well the psychological warfare that goes on before a fight being in the game long enough to know that the real champions never show emotion.

I much prefer an opponent who gives me the eye before a fight, by trying to look hard they are showing their fear. If they were confident enough in their abilities, they wouldn’t have to try to scare their opponent before the fight.  Usually if my opponent really gives me the stare before a fight, I pretend to be scared and avoid his gaze right up ‘til the bell goes. Then you have the impact of shock as your opponent realizes it was a sham and you go straight at him and let him have it right on the button.  I kept trying to catch my opponent looking at me but he was totally nonchalant. Not a good sign.

There was a big black guy in the  dressing room getting stripped for a fight and I thought thank fuck I’m not fighting him.  He must have been six feet two and at least a light heavyweight.  I went out into the arena to get gloved up. One of the trainers tied the laces whilst the other massaged my neck and shoulders. Vaseline was rubbed on my face to stop the bleeding in case I got cut.
“Where’s your gum shield Jock?”
“Don’t need one.”
“You fink you’re a big man don’t you Jock?”
“Big enough.”
“By the way Jock, I forgot to tell you.”
“What?”
“We changed your opponent,”
Pointing to the black guy.
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I knew you woz a bottle job you fucking Jock cunt. You ain’t man enough to fight for our club anyway. Go on fuck off  ‘ome then you Jock wanker!”
I was seething with anger. I wanted to pound the podgy little fucker’s face there and then, but that would have to wait.
“I didn’t say I wouldn’t fight him. I’ll have him, but you’re next you mouthy little shite!”
“C’mon then Jock ‘ave a fucking go.”
The other trainer and some of his mates had to pull us apart. The crowd saw this and cheered for more
“I’m gonna punch your lights out you Cockney wanker!”
“Anytime Jock! Any fucking time you like.”

The last contest had finished and it was time to walk to the ring. On the way, the trainer and I hurled insults at each other. Even after I had climbed through the ropes and he was standing in my corner he kept at it.
“Fucking bottle job Jock cunt.”
So I pushed the flat nosed bastard right down the stairs.  The crowd loved it. They went completely chicken oriental. The referee waves me and the big man into the centre of the ring.
“Now you both know the rules. I want a clean contest. No hitting below the belt. When I say “break”, you break and when I say “box” you box. Shake hands now and when the bell rings, come out fighting.”
I shook hands and looked up at the guy. He had a huge height and weight advantage. I had been done up like a kipper.

The bell rang and we came at each other in the centre of the ring. The big guy threw three left handed jabs at my face. I rolled with the punches but they were weak as piss anyway. Anybody who threw jabs like that didn’t deserve to be in the ring. He couldn’t even do the nose noise properly.  He was blowing air out of his mouth making a grunting noise, obviously an absolute beginner.  I moved inside, faked with a right, and came over the top with a huge left-handed haymaker that hit him flush on the face.  One punch and it was over it would be curtains for the novice.  The crowd went loopy and my trainer jumped in the ring and put his arm round me.
“See Jock no problem! I told you it would be all right!”
Tosser! He was supposed to be on my side, what was he doing upsetting me like that just before I got in the ring. Some people seem to think he was doing me a favour by getting me angry before the fight but there is no room for anger in the boxing ring.  He wasn’t doing me any favours, instead trying to stitch me up, thinking my bottle would crash, the light-ale-drinking, jellied-eel-eating, Farah-wearing, gold-chained-Del-Boy-wannabe. Fuck him and the Pearly King, rag and bone donkey he rode in on.  The hedge-hopping son of a pikey whore.

 

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