Publication date: May 31, 2022
Stephen ‘Moggie’ Murray is helping raise funds for a statue honoring boxing legend Jock McAvoy
A local pensioner and fundraiser is set to go on a ‘bus tour’ around England to help raise money for a statue of Rochdale boxing legend Jock McAvoy.
Hamer Amateur Boxing Club has been hard at work for the last few years trying to erect a permanent statue of ‘The Rochdale Thunderbolt’ in Falinge Park.
After a pandemic-enforced hiatus, the boxing club has returned to pursuing its dream of a statue honoring Jock’s legacy.
Now Stephen ‘Moggie’ Murray, who has helped raise funds for local causes, will embark on a two-and-a-half-week bus trip to help raise money for the statue.
Moggie’s first destination on June 6 will be Morecambe, where Jock has beaten 10 opponents in Winter Gardens, including wins over former Welsh Area Middleweight Champion Billy Green and two Northern Area Middleweight Champion Joe’s. Young’ Lowther and Tommy Moore.
It will then travel to Carlisle, Darlington, York, Lincoln, Norwich, Grays, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Brighton, Southampton, Yeovil, Stroud, Birmingham, West Bromwich, Newcastle-under-Lyme and Liverpool, before finally reaching Manchester, where Jock obtained 38 wins, including a win over the great Len Henry at Belle Vue.
Moggie, 68, said: “Jock’s achievements inside the boxing ring have helped put Rochdale on the map, but there is nothing on display to show future generations of our city just how great this forgotten man was.
“Jock has become a legend in our town for our older generation. But if our community does not express concern as to why nothing has been done to recognize this great fighter, then our younger generation will have no idea who he was.
“This great man suffered from all kinds of issues related to his mental health, as did I. However, he accomplished great things for himself and for our people, but he is still not recognized. We are doing this event along with other events within our city to try to get some kind of recognition for this great, great fighter of ours.”
McAvoy’s illustrious career spanned from 1927 to 1945, winning 132 contests and losing just 14, according to official BoxRec boxing records. Of this, 88 wins were by knockout.
Although born in Burnley as Joseph Patrick Bamford in 1908, McAvoy moved to Rochdale at a very young age and began boxing and training at numerous gyms within the city, including the Hamer Amateur Boxing Club.
Regarded as one of the greatest boxers of all time, McAvoy was never knocked out in his 18-year career and won the Lonsdale Belt by defending the British title three times. It was a title that he never lost.
McAvoy was awarded the British middleweight title in Manchester on April 10, 1933, after defeating Len Harvey on points.
They would meet again for the British and Commonwealth (British Empire) light heavyweight title at London’s White City Stadium on July 10, 1939, a fight that garnered an all-time British attendance record of over 94,000 fans. .
His crowning achievement came when he traveled to the United States to beat top contender for the world light heavyweight title Al McCoy by unanimous decision after 10 rounds at Madison Square Garden, on November 29, 1935.
Due to his win over McCoy, he was in line to box then world middleweight champion, Eddie ‘Babe’ Risko. McAvoy faced Risko in a non-title fight: McAvoy knocked out Risko at 2:48 time inside the first round after knocking him down six times.
McAvoy was never allowed a rematch with the title on the line, but he was offered the chance to fight then world light heavyweight champion and future International Boxing Hall of Famer John Henry Lewis in March 1936. Jock lost on points after 15 hard-fought rounds.
Although only a middleweight, McAvoy also fought for the British and Commonwealth (British Empire) heavyweight titles against champion Jack Peterson on April 23, 1936. Unfortunately, he lost on points after 15 grueling rounds.
McAvoy also won the British Light Heavyweight title in London on April 27, 1937, knocking out Eddie Phillips for the title.
Although Jock achieved great things inside the ring, he also suffered from mental health problems when he finished boxing. He came down with polio, which got steadily worse, and was confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. He had also survived both diphtheria and a broken neck prior to his polio diagnosis, as well as continued suffering from insomnia and depression. This led to regular arguments with his wife, Renee, who eventually left him.
Jock’s mental anguish gradually worsened, but his son Joe thought he had convinced the boxing champion to return to live in Rochdale. Jock agreed, but told Joe that he wanted to spend one more night at his house in Cheshire. Sadly, Jock took his own life that night in November 1971, overdosing on barbiturates.
Jock was buried in Rochdale Cemetery later that month.
Hamer’s head coach, Steven Connellan, said, “This is a great opportunity for our community to show their support as Moggie travels across the country to help with this great fundraising appeal for a statue of Hamer’s legend. Rochdale, Jock McAvoy, for our city and hopes that many boxers, ex-boxers and boxing fans will show their support for him as he reaches the various destinations along the way.
“This is a great opportunity for our council to sit down with us and try to support our community by allowing us to erect this statue somewhere in the center of our city to help inspire our younger generation and also help the city generate sightseeing.
“If we don’t manage to raise enough funds for a statue, we hope to get a bust or a blue plaque. The remaining funds will be donated to the Ringside Charitable Trust Care Home to help former boxers, like my uncle Kevin Taylor, who suffers from dementia after fighting once at the 1984 Olympics and for the British featherweight title twice. . .”
Local builder Ian Lawlor has kindly donated £1,000 to cover the cost of accommodation at each destination Moggie visits, along with Wright Interiors, who have kindly donated Jock McAvoy t-shirts and a small ladder for the tour.
Other locals have also helped the cause by donating money to help Moggie travel across the country.
Donations in support of the cause can be made to the following community bank account:
- Account number: 93160165
- Classification Code: 20-72-67