Memorial for black boxer unveiled as family calls for apology from sport

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The family of a black boxer who was prevented from competing professionally in the sport because of the colour of his skin has asked for an apology from the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBC).

Cuthbert Taylor, from Merthyr Tydfil, was the first black boxer to represent Great Britain at the Olympics, attending Amsterdam in 1928, and was once called “the best in Europe”.

But his talents were never fully recognised because the colour bar, which was in place from 1911 to 1948, stopped him from fighting for the British title.

Those in charge of the sport at the time and continue to be, the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBC), said fighters had to have “two white parents” to compete.

Mr Taylor was born in 1909 to father Cuthbert who was of Caribbean descent and mother Margaret who was white Welsh, so was deemed “not white enough to be British”.

A memorial for Mr Taylor was unveiled on Saturday to mark Black History Month and commemorate the site where he trained.

The plaque reads: “British amateur flyweight champion Cuthbert Taylor trained on this site.

“He was prohibited from competing for professional titles under the British Boxing Board of Control’s colour bar rule, which was in place between 1911 and 1948.

“Denied the chance to succeed because the colour of his skin.”

Mr Taylor’s family, including his grandson Alun Taylor, attended the unveiling along with Gerald Jones MP.

Mr Jones led a debate in the House of Commons last year on historical discrimination in boxing and used it to demand an apology for the family.

During his speech, Mr Jones said: “Due simply to the fact that his parents were of different ethnic backgrounds, Cuthbert Taylor would never have the recognition and success at professional level that his remarkable talent deserved.

From left: MP Gerald Jones MP, and members of Mr Taylor's family, Alun Taylor, Callum Morris and Nick Taylor.
From left: MP Gerald Jones MP, and members of Mr Taylor’s family, Alun Taylor, Callum Morris and Nick Taylor (Handout/PA)

“That was all because of a rule that left a stain on the history of one of our country’s most popular and traditional sports, one that has otherwise been known for bringing people from many different backgrounds and communities together.”

He added: “Although we cannot go back and give Cuthbert Taylor the professional titles and success that his career deserved, we can ensure that he has true and just recognition for his talent and abilities and that his name is not forgotten from boxing history merely because of the colour of his skin.”

Raising the issue again in the Commons on Thursday, Mr Jones said: “This blatantly racist, discriminatory and shameful policy prevented many people from achieving their potential and, unbelievably, the British Boxing Board of Control has yet to apologise.”

House of Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg said: “I find myself in complete agreement with the honourable gentleman.

“It is not something that I was aware of.

“I was not aware of Cuthbert Taylor, but that he should have been banned for his colour at any point in our history is simply monstrous, and any organisation that was involved with that ought to try to right a wrong.”

The BBBC is yet to apologise.

It has been asked to comment.

Mr Jones has also asked the organisation to undertake work promoting the role non-white boxers played in the sport’s history.

Mr Taylor, a bantam and lightweight boxer, had 151 wins, 22 draws and 69 defeats between 1928 and 1947.

He died in 1977, aged 67.

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