Returning to the ring after 41 years
By : Ex Cpl Fred Carslake RE
In 1967 after a boxing career lasting ten years I won the Army Heavyweight Boxing Title, so you can imagine my delight at receiving a letter from of the president of the Army Boxing Association Major General Peter Everson OBE, inviting me to see Army Individual Boxing Championships this year. It certainly put the icing on the cake for me.The evening commenced with drinks in the VIP lounge which gave all the guests a chance to meet up and discuss the nights programme. Although I felt a little nervous meeting up with so many high ranking officers I did not feel out of place in my white dinner jacket and black tie. On looking through the programme it was nice to see that they had included a photograph of me winning my army title and there I was as a guest of honour for this years event it was fantastic. I took my place in the VIP enclosure and settled down to what turned out to be an excellent night’s boxing.As the first boxers were piped into the ring quite an electric atmosphere was generated as the spectators jumped to their feet and raised the roof with their cheers. I noticed was that the scoring is now all computerised with the judges pressing a Red or Blue button every time one of the boxers scored a point. If one boxer hits the other too many times the computer tells the referee to stop the fight. This was a big change from my days in the ring when each boxer started each round with 20 points and had one point deducted every time his opponent hit him three times without getting hit back.The first fight of the night was between two ladies which, was something completely new to me and although I knew there would be some ladies on the programme I did not know what to expect. It was a first class bout and a good start to the nights boxing with both ladies boxing extremely well.Out of the 20 finalists in the 10 other fights on the programme there were 5 Sappers taking part which was nice to see, me being an ex sapper. The overall standard of boxing for the evening was superb and it was an honour to be asked to present the prizes to the ‘Super Heavyweights’, in which Spr Louis Hamson represented 26 Eng Regt. Although he did not win his fight he was a credit to his unit and I think we will be seeing a lot more of him in the future. My congratulations go to Spr Littler (Light Heavyweight) and Spr Pullen (Welterweight) both of 35 Eng Regt for winning their respective titles.I would like to offer this advice to all ‘SAPPER’ boxers - ‘NEVER GIVE UP’. I came out of boy service at the beginning of 1960 having won the ‘Junior Middleweight’ title the year before. I entered the Senior Championships, thinking I could win it ‘just like’ that (after all I was the best thing to arrive on this planet since sliced bread), only to come unstuck because I was not good enough, I was not heavy enough and I certainly never had enough experience. There was a big jump between Junior and Senior boxing which I did not appreciate at that time, however I persevered and had the pleasure of boxing for every unit I served with over the next seven years. This stood me in good stead because I put on weight, gained the experience I needed and eventually won my army title in 1967.The Royal Engineer units I boxed for were57 Trg Sqn & 1TRRE (1960) – 42 Fld Sqn & 35 CER - 12 Fld Sqn & 38 CER48 Fld Sqn & 25 CER – 57 Trg Sqn & 1TRRE (1967)I also represented the Aden Combined Services team in 1964 against Bahrain in Bahrain.One question I am always asked is WHY, did it take me seven years to win the Senior title after winning the Juniors in 1959 – Well two things come to mind not enough fights during those seven years and poor coaching. I served in BAOR for five years and a year in Aden and during that time I only had two chances to fight each year, the first being the team championships which started in the October, if your team got knocked out in the early rounds that was it until the individual championships in the February and if you got beat early at that stage that was it. For my last four years if I wanted to box I had to promote it myself and in most units I served with I had to train and coach the team, there was no one to coach me to the standard I needed to be at. If I had to serve my time in BAOR again I think I would most certainly have joined a civilian boxing club to gain the fights, coaching and experience I so badly needed. This was what I did when I served my last year in the UK and that helped me win me my title. I hope that this write-up will help encourage all ‘SAPPER’ boxers in their career in the ring.If any of my Old Boxing Team Mates out there would like to get in touch I would love to hear from them.
From Fred Carslake
From Fred Carslake
Hi Everybody I have a new boxing story which you might like to hear about - I went down to Chatham at the beginning of July and was put up in the Sgt's mess and given a Sgt to look after me for the two days I was staying there. I got down there just before lunch and after lunch I was given a tour of the RSME workshops which brought back a lot of memories from when I did a six months course there at the end of 1960. I was also shown around the RE Museum and had a look at the silver in the Officers Mess which had been plundered from all over the world at different times it was very interesting to see. At the end of the afternoon I was introduced to a Captain Colin Willows who was the RE Corps Boxing Officer and he explained how boxing was coming along in the modern army and, that now that they had taken over part of the old navy barracks he had set aside part of it for a corps boxing gym where they had all the latest equipment. You can imagine my delight when he then asked me if I would like to officially open the Gym the next day which I said I would with the greatest of pleasure. In the evening I went to see the new gym for the first time and to meet the boxers there were about 15 altogether and they were very enthusiastic about taking part in the tournament the next day and were just having their final training session. We then retired to the Sgt's mess for a few rum and coke's before turning in. During the first part of the Wednesday morning I was shown around the RE Museum and had a look at the silver in the Officers Mess which had been plundered from all over the world at different times it was very interesting to see. At the end of the morning we went down the gym for the opening and it was fantastic to see that they had created two A2 photographs which were up on the wall one of me winning the army championships in 1967 and one of my write-up of the army championships earlier this year which I believe I sent you. Their CO was there for the opening along with a number of other senior officers and we all had a good chat afterwards. In the afternoon I was taken round the RE bomb disposal workshops which was quite an eye opener and something that I found very interesting. During the afternoon a ring was erected on the barrack square with another one being set up in the main gym in case of bad weather. At six in the evening it was touch and go as to where the match was going to be held because it was spitting down with rain however, they took a chance and decided to have it outdoors and then the sun came out so all their plans worked out well. The boxers were piped into the ring by the band of the Royal Ghurkha Riffles which really was nice to see. The REME won the first two bouts and we won the next two the fifth was won by the REME so we went into the interval 3-2 down and had it all to do in the second part of the evening. Unfortunately even thought the lads fought their hearts out they could only win one of the last three fights and ended 5-3 down on the night. We did not win the match but it was a great match to watch. With the boxing over everyone was invited to the Officers Mess boxers included for drinks and sandwiches before all going down to the Sgt's Mess to round the evening off and to reflect on a good nights boxing.
Best wishes Fred
Best wishes Fred