South Yorkshire Times Friday, February 11, 1927
An Hour in the Training Quarters
A Busy Centre
A Dearne Valley Revival?
Roland Todd (left) sparring in training
“As fit as a flea on a fat baby.” This in the words of his trainer, is how Roland Todd, the uncrowned – or unbelted – middleweight boxing champion of England, is feeling at the moment. Todd is trading at Wombwell for one of the most important parts of his career. On Wednesday next, at the Royal Albert Hall, he meets the Welshman, Frank Moody.
He’s preparing in a gymnasium at the Sir George’s Arms hotel, where crowds flock nightly to see at work. With him are Fred Young, of Marylebone, one of Britain’s most promising heavyweights, Kidd Doyle of Salford, a dashing bantam, Ernie Stevenson, a local welterweight, and a host of young boxing enthusiast, all eager to help Todd.
The teamwork in the camp is splendid, and Todd (in his own words this time) is “coming on fine.” Fred Young is also training for a bout next Wednesday. On the same night as the Todd – Moody contest is to meet John Shortland, the new “white hope,” for a purse. Both Todd and Young are being trained by Ben Stevenson, formerly well-known in South Yorkshire as a welterweight, now in business at Wombwell. The association between Todd and Stevenson is something more than a sporting alliance; the two have been firm friends for years. Todd readily admits that no one understands him and knows his needs better than Ben Stevenson.
A representative of the “Mexborough and Swindon Times” had a pleasant chat with Todd the other evening. First of all the Doncaster man talked about the loss of rank (nominal if not moral) he suffered through being deprived of the middleweight title. He is out to rectify that position is perseverance and hard fighting will do it. Both Todd and his trainer feel the situation keenly.
“When the Board of Boxing Control took the middleweight title from me,” said Todd, “they gave as the reason that I had not defended the title since I won it. I want to say that is not correct, for I had a fight with Bruno Frattini, of Italy. However, the syndicate recently opened out to promote boxing want to fight out who is the real champion. The idea is to match me with Moody, so that the winner can fight Mulligan, the present champion.”
Asked why Moody had been chosen as important for this introduction to the championship contest, Todd said, “There has been some talk of Moody having put up a good show against Milligan in the States. They were in the same camp, and Moody said to have put him on the floor once or twice. They want to find out which of us is a better man of the two.”
Todd mentioned that he had fought Moody twice previously. They had met over 15 rounds at catch weights in Sheffield in 1990 when the result was a draw. In 1922 they met again at Newcastle and Todd knocked Moody out in the seventh round. At that time they were fighting at the middleweight – 11 stone 6 pounds – as will be the case next Wednesday.
Our representative talk with Todd about his sparring partners. This phase of the interview was interesting, because it revealed something of a revival of boxing enthusiasm in the Dearne Valley, and the possibility of the district eventually turning out champions.
With him, in addition to those mentioned, are “Digger” Evans, of Goldthorpe, a welterweight; Jack Harrison of Goldthorpe, a middleweight; Arthur Uttley of Wombwell, a bantam; and Frank Lane, middleweight, of Mexborough.
We are informed, by the way, that Jack Harrison is prepared to fight any 11 stone man in England.
Todd is a high opinion of the capability of some of these young local. He declares that Oakley shows real promise and that Harrison is a bright future if he will persevere. Lane’s powers he suggests are two well-known to take things quietly at the present time on account of a damaged eye.
Todd is mixing his training. He does his roadwork at his home at Norton, near Doncaster, covering about 8 miles each morning – and occasionally he does a bit of rowing on the Don. Is “Jim” work is done under the supervision of Stevenson, who sometimes donned the gloves with him. It is interesting to recall that Todd and Stevenson fought at the Liverpool Stadium in 1917.
Watching Todd goes through his paces, our representative was convinced that he means business. Never has he concentrates on his work so keenly.
Though Fred Young has no local connections, his prospects are being eagerly discussed at Wombwell, where his personality has won him many friends. He has the cut of a gentleman, and though only 23 years of age is remarkably fine physique. Stevenson’s opinion about him is “He looks like turning out a champion. He is enthusiastic about his boxing career, has a heart like a lion and a punch like a horse. He has an exceptionally good guard and is very fast for a heavyweight.”