Writer: Kid Glove
Date:Friday December 9 2016
Time waits for no man but man can make his mark on time itself.
Sport gives its participants the wonderful chance to fulfil dreams, a chance to stamp your name in the history books, creating a moment that not only gives you great personal pleasure but also edges you towards immortality in the great annuals of history.
On 6th December 1975 in Mexico City, in a bullring and in front of 44,000 partisan South Americans a young boxer from Bethnal Green not only fulfilled his own personal ambition and in the process stunning 40,000 spectators cheering on their national hero, but cemented his place in Boxing immortality.
Forty-one years ago this week, Click Here, John Henry Stracey, stood calmly in a ring erected in the centre of the aforementioned bullring, his warm-up was complete and the young Londoner knew his moment to write his name into the Boxing history books had arrived.
What happened over the course of the next half-hour has almost become one of those ‘Do you remember where you was when Kennedy was shot’ moments.
After surviving a first round knockdown against the champion, José Nápoles, John H Stracey recovered his senses and proceeded to turn the fight around. The third round saw José Nápoles caught with a punch that scrambled his senses and the champion was also forced to take a count after hitting the canvas.
The challenger knew he had his man and a controlled, but relentless, assault, saw John H Stracey force his opponent back. José Nápoles’ face was becoming badly marked up and his eye was closing. The sith round saw John H Stracey up the pace and a ruthless barrage of punches had the champion stuck on the ropes with no punches being returned.
The referee waited for a response from José Nápoles but none was forthcoming and the decision to step in and save José Nápoles from taking any further punishment was made. The young man from Bethnal Green had achieved his dream; he was the new WBC welterweight champion of the world. The crowd fell silent but John H Stracey and his corner, as you’d imagine, went wild. José Nápoles was never to climb into a professional ring again, electing to retire.
In the week of the 41st anniversary of John’s sensational achievement I’ve been fortunate to have gotten in contact with John and being the gentleman that he is, he answered a few questions relating to that marvellous night in Mexico City (plus a little something relating to what lies ahead this Saturday night)
I hope you enjoy:
1 – How did you feel walking into the ring, in front of 44,000 Mexicans who saw you as just the next victim for their hero?
Apprehensive but still very confident.
2 – The champion kept you waiting for 10 minutes before he entered the ring, did it affect your concentration?
No it actually made me more stronger.
3 – Being knocked down in the first round, what were your thoughts?
Just to get straight back up and carry on.
4 – Sticking the champion on the canvas in round three, was that the moment you knew the title was heading your way?
When I caught him I knew it wouldn't go 15 rounds.
5 – When a halt was called to the fight, what were your initial thoughts and how was your victory accepted by the Mexican crowd?
I always knew I would be World Champion and always believed I could do it.
6 – What were the celebrations like in the period after you’d won the belt and before you got back to the UK?
We couldn't celebrate anywhere, no club / venue would let us in because I had dethroned their hero.
Lastly, and totally off topic but looking ahead to a big weekend of boxing,
7 – Who are you tipping to win in the heavyweight clashes between Joshua and Molina and Whyte and Chisora in Manchester this Saturday night?
Joshua in about 3, and the other one I have no interest in at all.
My thanks go to John H Stracey for his co-operation in answering the above; he is a true gentleman who deserves his moment of boxing immortality.
For those who have never seen the full fight, please feel free to watch the black and white version below, complete with authentic Spanish commentary which gives it a certain aura I believe.
Date:Friday December 9 2016
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