Exhibition tribute to a sporting great

Jack Bodell Jack Bodell

The life of one of South Derbyshire’s most famous sporting sons is to be celebrated with an exhibition chronicling his sparkling career.

Former British and European heavyweight champion boxer Jack Bodell died in November at the age of 76, and talks between his family and South Derbyshire District Council have been ongoing about how best to commemorate his achievements.

With the help of local history archive The Magic Attic, a catalogue of pictures, film footage and boxing memorabilia will go on display at Sharpe’s Pottery Museum, in West Street, Swadlincote, from 16 January to 4 February 2017.

It will be completely free to attend, with members of the public urged to drop in and share their memories of the Newhall southpaw, who defeated Joe Bugner and even sparred with the legendary Muhammad Ali in his pomp.

District Council Chief Executive Frank McArdle said: “As soon as we were informed of Jack’s passing councillors were determined to pay tribute to the life of one of South Derbyshire’s sporting greats.

“The Council is grateful for the help and support of The Magic Attic in co-ordinating this exhibition and I’m also delighted to confirm the wholehearted support of Jack’s family, who have indicated a willingness to both attend the event and supply personal boxing memorabilia to go on display.

“All that remains is for those people – and there are many – who followed Jack throughout his career to come along, reminisce and celebrate the life of one of South Derbyshire’s, and indeed Britain’s, boxing heroes.”

Bodell began boxing at the age of nine, regularly training in Swadlincote and at a gym at Newhall’s Royal Oak pub.

A South Derbyshire mine worker, he started out as a light heavyweight, winning the 1961 ABA championships and a bronze medal at the European amateur championships the same year.

He first won the vacant British title against Carl Gizzi in 1969, before losing it to Henry Cooper in his first defence and then regaining it a year later by out-pointing Bugner.

Bodell retired from the sport in 1972 with a record of 58 wins, including 31 by knockout.

More details about the exhibition are due to be announced shortly.

4 January 2017