• Short Summary

    For a once illegal sport boxing has come a long way and few bodies can have done as much to aid that progress as London's National Sporting Club.

  • Description

    For a once illegal sport boxing has come a long way and few bodies can have done as much to aid that progress as London's National Sporting Club.

    SYNOPSIS: For any visitor to the capital of England the heart of London is Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square -- theatre land. And it's here in the West End that one of the world's most famous sporting venues resides at one of the world's best known restaurants -- the Cafe Royal.

    A visit to any sporting occasion here at the National Sporting Club is certain to bring you face to face with ??? of the most famous names in sport. Like former FIFA President, Sir Stanley Rouse; former boxing star Henry Cooper and Rugby Union scrum-half Gareth Edwards.

    Some personalities from outside sport -- like World War Two hero Douglas Bader.

    And Britain's Royal family is well represented by the Duke of Gloucester.

    They came from all walks of sport. Former England soccer manager Sir Alf Ramsey is a keen visitor, so are Test cricket stars Dennis Compton and Sir Len Hutton.

    Since Lord Lonsdale became the first President of the newly-formed National Sporting Club in 1891, it has been almost a second home for the richer boxing enthusiasts. And it was these fans of the fight game that turned it from back-street brawling into the art it is today.

    Illegal in the eyes of the law vulgar in the opinion of the aristocracy, boxing certainly needed cleaning up at the turn of the century. The club, then situated at Covent Garden, introduced very strict rules and attracted boxers like Bob Fitzsimmons, Jem Mace, Bombardier Billy Wells and George Carpentier into its ring. Consequently gambling on the result of fights became less important than the bout itself.

    In the 1920's the club struggled financially and was forced to sell its Covent Garden home. But by the end of the decade it had re-opened in Soho Square. A series of moves followed as the fortunes of the Club, boxing and, indeed, Britain rose and fell.

    But whenever the club has staged fights traditions have been kept intact. The black tie, silenced during bouts and of course 'nobbins', the custom of throwing coins into the ring after a particularly good fight. Lord Lonsdale is remembered by the magnificent Lonsdale belts, presented to title-fight winners. Defend a title twice and the belt is yours to keep.

    The National Sporting Club has been through many ups and downs in its 86-year history. Now it finally seems settled at the Cafe Royal and boxing still has one very special home.

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