To describe boxing records from the olden days as 'sketchy' would be paying them a compliment they do not deserve.
For all the bluster and lunacy of the divisive sport we know today, we can at least depend on results, from around the world, being archived and reported accurately, thanks to the online database BoxRec which is used by reporters, promoters and fans alike.
But those records are far from complete and it's estimated that half of the bouts that have ever happened are not yet chronicled and some are unfortunately lost forever.
Delving into our own records at the Barnsley Chronicle then adding shows, wins, losses and draws to records while finding out more about the characters involved is as enlightening as it is enjoyable.
For example, did you know a Panamanian boxed out of Barnsley under an alias in the 1920s and 30s?A fight, held outside, was postponed due to fog and, tragically, more than one Barnsley fighter was involved in a fatal contest.A themed show between African boxers and hometown men was affected by two of the away fighters failing to show after returning to Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) to take on Mussolini's Italian troops in the infamous 'Abyssinian Crisis' in 1935.All these stories have been reported by the Chronicle.
Panama-born 'Young Sam McVea' rocked up in Barnsley, to train at the gym run by actor and wrestler Brian Glover's family in the mid 1920s. It can be presumed, although it was never reported, that he was pretending to be the son or brother of famous heavyweight Sam McVea, who boxed around the world.
But given that they were boxing at the same time, with the elder man originally from the USA and the younger said to be Panamanian, it seems quite unlikely. Our Sam's career saw him box everywhere from Rochdale to Chile and, between August 1923 to November 1924, his four contests had taken place in Kingston, Jamaica, Havana in Cuba, the Barnsley Drill Hall and then in Mexborough.He battled up and down the country, inbetween trips back to Jamaica where he also added to his record, eventually finishing in 1932 with a known record of 28 wins, 36 losses and 14 draws.
Things did not turn out too well for 'Barnsley's Carnera', Chris Goulding, from Worsbrough Common, who could not emulate the heavyweight world champion Primo Carnera. Goulding seemed to be a knock out or knocked out merchant.He ended with a record of won 19, lost 32, and rarely heard the final bell either way.
Barnsley did produce its fair share of champions and it is little wonder given the number of shows held in the town.Throughout the '30s there was a show at a venue on Midland Street just about every Sunday as well as regular cards put on at Dillington Park Stadium and at the Drill Hall on Eastgate.
Champions included 'The Barnsley Bombshell' Charlie Hardcastle, Chuck Parker and Tommy Moore.Hardcastle, from Worsbrough Bridge, became Barnsley's first ever British champion – winning the featherweight belt with a first round KO of Alf Wye in 1917. In a reserved occupation during World War One as a miner, he was back down the pit only two days later.
There have only been three more British champions from Barnsley and two achieved the feat 100 years on from Hardcastle last year.Parker came close to emulating the feat as he lost out for the welterweight crown against Dave McCleave on points in April 1936.He did win the Northern Area belt, as did Royston's Moore at middleweight, and their titles elevated them above the many other Barnsley professionals of the time.
Parker crammed in 170 bouts in ten years, winning more than 100, and he even boxed in Nazi Germany – losing in Hamburg to the formidable Jupp Besselmann in 1937.
Whereas most finished with mixed records at best, Hardcastle (won 46, lost 27, drawn four), Parker (won 107, lost 47, drawn 15) and Moore (won 36, lost 17, drawn one) ended up with strong winning records. Hardcastle was one of the boxers involved in a fatality.His opponent 'Sapper' Louis Hood died as a result of his injuries following his fight with Hardcastle at Covent Garden in June 1916. Hardcastle, along with his trainer John Goodwin, and all the officials were initially arrested for manslaughter before being allowed to carry on with their careers.
Barnsley's Dick Roughley died after losing consciousness in a bout in Leeds back in November 1927. Four years later Eddie Walmsley, also of Barnsley, died following a contest with Wath's Alf Crummack – although a coroner later ruled that Walsmsley had an enlarged thymus gland and could have died at any moment from any sort of shock.
Regular boxing died out in the region following the Second World War – leaving the '30s as the undisputed heyday of Barnsley boxing. That is due to the number of professionals operating, the regular shows and the excitement it brought to residents attending them week in, week out with attendances regularly more than 1,000 which topples the crowds seen at the Metrodome for professional shows in the modern era. Nowadays, boxing is thankfully a lot safer and well-managed, the characters may remain but it's nowhere near as fascinating.
The Chronicle's archives can be accessed at Experience Barnsley in the Town Hall. Did your ancestor box or do you have any old boxing photos? Contact Ashley on: 734296 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.