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The Lonsdale Belt (full name Lord Lonsdale Challenge Belt, originally known as the Challenge Belt) is the oldest and longest running boxing championship belt in the UK. It was a boxing prize introduced by Hugh Lowther, 5th Earl of Lonsdale on behalf of the National Sporting Club, to be awarded to British boxing Champions. in 1929 the British Boxing Board of Control took responsibility for awarding this belt. It is still awarded to British champions today.

The National Sporting Club

The Original Challenge Belt design presented by National Sporting Club 1909–1929

Origin

Lord Lonsdale was the first president of the National Sporting Club (NSC).[1] In 1909, he introduced the Lonsdale Belt as a new trophy for the British boxing Champion at each weight division. A 9 or 22 carat gold belt comprising two heavy chains with a central enamel medallion depicting a boxing match; flanked by enamel medallions showing single boxers and gold medallions inscribed with the names of the belt winners on a scroll, interspersed with smaller gold medallions, depicting the Union Rose. All backed with a red, white and blue ribbon.[2] The belts were made by London jewellers Mappin and Web at their Birmingham workshop.[3] A total of 22 Lonsdale belts were issued by the NSC, and of these 20 were won outright.

The manager of the NSC; Arthur Frederick Bettinson published details about the terms and conditions of holding the belt agreed by the NSC in Sporting Life on 22 December 1909. The main rules were:

  • The holder must defend his title with in 6 months of a challenge. minimum stake of £100 a side (£200 for heavyweights, £50 for flyweights)
  • The belt becomes the holder's absolute property after 3 successful bouts held under the auspices of the NSC, consecutive or otherwise, or is held for 3 consecutive years. They will also receive an NSC pension of £50 a year from the age of 50.
  • The Holder must pay a deposit and insurance for the belt.[4]

The first recipient of this belt was Freddie Welsh, who defeated Johnny Summers for the NSC British Lightweight title 8 November 1909.[5]

First holders of NSC Challenge belts

Weight class Reign began Champion Defeated
Lightweight 8 November 1909 WalesFreddie Welsh Johnny Summers[6]
Middleweight 20 December 1909 WalesTom Thomas Charlie Wilson[7]
Welterweight 21 March 1910 EnglandYoung Joseph Jack Goldswain[8]
Featherweight 18 April 1910 WalesJim Driscoll Spike Robson[9]
Bantamweight 17 October 1910 EnglandDigger Stanley Joe Bowker[10]
Heavyweight 24 April 1911 EnglandBilly Wells Iron Hague[11]
Flyweight 4 December 1911 EnglandSid Smith Joe Wilson[12]
Light-heavyweight 9 March 1914 England Dick Smith Dennis Haugh[13]

The British Boxing Board of Control

Lonsdale belt presented by the B.B.B.of.C. Picture is changed to a portrait of Lord Lonsdale, replacing the 2 boxers in the original version.

The NSC became virtually defunct in 1929 and lost control of the sport to the British Boxing Board of Control (B.B.B.of.C), who started to issue the second version, called the Lord Lonsdale Challenge belt in 1936.[14] Lonsdale consented to the use of his name and image on the belt in perpetuity, so his face has ever since been on the belt. In 1939 the last nine carat gold belt was launched by the B.B.B.of.C.[14] This was won by the lightweight Eric Boon that year.[15] The last nine carat gold belt won outright was by Henry Cooper in 1959. From 1945 onwards the belts were made of hallmarked silver and the laurel leaf border had the thistle, daffodil and shamrock added to the already present rose, to represent the 4 symbols of the UK.[14] The belt was machine made for a short time in the 1970s before the B.B.B.of.C decided to have it hand made again, passing the contract to Fatorinis, who continue to make the belt's today. The cost of each belt is £14,000.[14]

First holders of the B.B.B.of.C. Lonsdale belt

Weight class Reign Began Champion Defeated
Flyweight 16 September 1936 ScotlandBenny Lynch Pat Palmer[16]
Featherweight 24 September 1936 ScotlandJohnny McGrory Nel Tarleton[17]
Lightweight 19 October 1936 England Jimmy Walsh Harry Mizler[18]
Light-heavyweight 27 April 1937 EnglandJock McAvoy Eddie Phillips[19]
Bantamweight 31 May 1937 EnglandJohnny King Jackie Brown[20]
Heavyweight 15 March 1937 WalesTommy Farr Ben Foord [6]
Middleweight 25 October 1937 EnglandJock McAvoy Jack Hyams[19]
Welterweight 21 February 1938 Scotland Jake Kilrain Jack Lord[21]

Current holders of the B.B.B.of.C Lonsdale belt

Weight class Reign began Champion Defeated
Flyweight 14 May 2016 Wales Andrew Selby Louis Norman[22]
Super Flyweight vacant
Bantamweight 1 July 2017 England Josh Wale Jamie Wilson[23]
Super Bantamweight 13 May 2017 England Thomas Patrick Ward James Dickens[24]
Featherweight 26 September 2015 England Ryan Walsh Samir Mouneimne[25]
Super Featherweight vacant
Lightweight 7 October 2017 England Lewis Ritson Robbie Barrett[26]
Light Welterweight 21 October 2017 England Jack Catterall Tyrone Nurse[27]
Welterweight 5 March 2016 England Bradley Skeete Sam Eggington[28]
Light Middleweight vacant
Middleweight 26 November 2016 England Tommy Langford Sam Sheedy[29]
Super Middleweight vacant
Light Heavyweight 24 March 2018 Scotland Callum Johnson Frank Buglioni[30]
Cruiserweight 26 May 2017 England Matty Askin Craig Kennedy[31]
Heavyweight 6 October 2017 England Sam Sexton Gary Cornish[32]

Out of the ring

Changes

In 1987, the B.B.B.of.C decided not to award more than one belt in the same division to any fighter. However, a boxer can win belts outright in different weight classes.[33]

On 1 September 1999 the B.B.B.of.C decided that a boxer must win four championship contests in the same weight division, rather than the three previously needed, to clinch a belt outright. The rule also stipulating one of the four wins must include at least one mandatory contest. The B..B.B.of.C. general secretary John Morris cited rising costs of making the belts as the chief reason for the change.[34]

The B.B.B.of.C introduced the Lonsdale Badge in 2013. It is worn by outright winners. This an Excerpt from an article about the badge:

“The British Boxing Board of Control are happy to agree to honour all outright winners of the Lord Lonsdale Challenge Belt by the introduction of this badge,” said Smith. “It is a wonderful achievement for any boxer to win a British Championship and any boxer who wins the belt outright has a special place in the sports history.

“After the idea being suggested by Ross Thompson-Jenkins at Sky Sports and subsequent discussion between Melissa Anglesea of Suzi Wong Creations and myself, I am pleased that the idea has come to fruition and that all Lonsdale Belt outright winners, regardless of promoter, broadcaster and clothes manufacturer can wear the badge with pride.”

— Rose proud to be first bearer of 'Lonsdale Badge', Eurosport 18 April 2013[35]

Donations and auctions

The Lonsdale Belt won by Bombardier Billy Wells in 1911 is now kept at the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich, South East London, and is not on display to the general public.[36] Johnny Brown's Lonsdale Belt was donated to the Museum of London in 2010.[37] In November 2000 the belt awarded to Randy Turpin in 1956 was auctioned for £23,000, while, in September 2011, that won by the welterweight Jack Hood in 1926, fetched £36,000. Hood, who died in 1992, had displayed the latter above the bar at the Bell public house in Tanworth-in-Arden of which he was the licensee.[38]

In 1993, Henry Cooper sold all 3 of his belts for £42,000 after losing heavily on the Lloyd's insurance market. The first of the belts was the last one made of gold, this was sold for £22,000. The others sold for £10,000 each. Cooper was expecting £70,000 for the sale, but was content they all were all sold together.[39]

Theft

List of outright winners

Henry Cooper showing off 3 lonsdale belts. 1967

3 time outright winner of Lonsdale Belt

  • (heavyweight) Henry Cooper (1967) - The only man ever to win three Lonsdale belts outright.[36]

2 time outright winner of Lonsdale Belt

Weight class Champion Year achieved
Featherweight EnglandNel Tarleton 1945[44]
Featherweight EnglandRonnie Clayton 1953[45]
Bantamweight ScotlandPeter Keenan 1957[46]
Featherweight WalesHoward Winstone 1963[47]
Welterweight WalesBrian Curvis 1964[48]
Light-welterweight JamaicaEnglandClinton McKenzie 1987[49]

Outright winners of Lonsdale Belt (Partial)

Weight class Champion Year achieved
Featherweight WalesJim Driscoll 1910[50]
Bantamweight EnglandDigger Stanley 1912[51]
Lightweight WalesFreddie Welsh 1912[52]
Heavyweight EnglandBombardier Billy Wells 1913[53]
Flyweight WalesJimmy Wilde 1917[54]
Middleweight EnglandPat O'Keeffe 1918[55]
Bantamweight ScotlandJim Higgins 1921[56]
Bantamweight EnglandJohnny Brown 1925[57]
Welterweight EnglandJack Hood 1926[58]
Heavyweight WalesJack Petersen 1935[59]
Welterweight EnglandErnie Roderick 1941[60]
Flyweight ScotlandJackie Paterson 1943[61]
Light-heavyweight EnglandRandolph Turpin 1956[62]
Middleweight EnglandPat McAteer 1957[63]
Featherweight ScotlandCharlie Hill 1958[64]
Lightweight EnglandMaurice Cullen 1966[65]
Middleweight EnglandAlan Minter 1976[66]
Lightweight EnglandGeorge Feeney 1984[67]
Bantamweight Northern IrelandHugh Russell 1985[68]
Bantamweight EnglandBilly Hardy 1989[69]
Flyweight WalesRobbie Regan 1992[70]
Heavyweight EnglandCanadaLennox Lewis 1992[71]
Welterweight EnglandDelroy Bryan 1995[72]
Super-bantamweight EnglandRichie Wenton 1996[73]
Welterweight EnglandRyan Rhodes 1997[74]
Super-welterweight EnglandEnsley Bingham 1999[75]
Light-middleweight EnglandJulius Francis 1999[76]
Super-featherweight Republic of IrelandMichael Gomez 2000[77]
Lightweight EnglandBobby Vanzie 2000[78]
Heavyweight EnglandDanny Williams 2002[79]
Welterweight Northern IrelandNeil Sinclair 2003[80]
Welterweight EnglandDavid Barnes 2004[81]
Super-bantamweight EnglandMichael Hunter 2005[82]
Heavyweight EnglandMatt Skelton 2005[83]
Middleweight EnglandScott Dann 2005[84]
Super-middleweight EnglandCarl Froch 2006[85]
Bantamweight ZimbabweEnglandIan Napa 2008[86]
Welterweight EnglandKell Brook 2009[87]
Lightweight EnglandJohn Murray 2010[88]
Featherweight ScotlandJohn Simpson 2010[89]
Bantamweight EnglandStuart Hall 2011[90]
Light-middleweight EnglandBrian Rose 2012[91]
Featherweight WalesLee Selby 2013[92]
Welterweight EnglandFrankie Gavin 2013[93]
Middleweight EnglandBilly Joe Saunders 2014[94]
Featherweight EnglandRyan Walsh 2015[95]
Welterweight EnglandBradley Skeete 2016[96]

See also

Bibliography

  • Harding, John (1994). Lonsdale's Belt: The Story of Boxing's Greatest Prize. London: Robson Books. ISBN 0-86051-846-9. 
  • Maurice Golesworthy (1988). Encyclopaedia of Boxing (Eighth Edition), Robert Hale Limited, ISBN 0-7090-3323-0

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Video

The Lonsdale Belt - A history on Vimeo

External links