First LEBA Committee Meeting, Tollington Arms, 1971 (l-r) Charlie Webster (Treasurer), Jack Powell (Secretary), Alf Paolozzi (Chairman), George Sewell (PRO)
The London ex-Boxers’ Association was formed in 1971 following a meeting that was organised by Alf Paolozzi. Paolozzi got the idea of forming the association following a meeting he attended in Kent of former boxers. The idea behind forming such an association was to provide a regular meeting place where former boxers could meet friends and former opponents in a social environment.
Initially, Paolozzi met with former British champion Len Harvey to ask for his support in establishing a similar association to the one that had already been established in Kent. Unfortunately, Harvey was in poor health and was unable to play any active part in the establishment of LEBA. Harvey, did however, suggest to Paolozzi that he contact Jack Powell to ask him to place a notice in the Jack Powell Stores shop window notifying former boxers about the intention of forming an association of former boxers.
Powell not only agreed to this but on the night of the inaugural meeting, 7 November 1971, went to the meeting where he met, in addition to Alf, six other former boxers. This group agreed with Paolozzi’s proposal about forming an ex-boxers’ association and duly appointed him LEBA’s first chairman, while Jack Powell was appointed secretary.
Throughout Jack’s tenure of office, he was assisted by his wife, Mary, in his secretarial duties. When Jack died in 1992 Mary’s importance to the development of LEBA was acknowledged by the committee who duly asked her to become secretary in name, a role she carries out to this day from the Jack Powell Stores in Islington.
From small beginnings LEBA now has over 600 members, including 85 life members. In acknowledgement of their contribution to boxing once a former boxer reaches the age of 80, he was made a life member of LEBA.
In addition to its monthly meetings LEBA also hosts an Annual Awards’ Dinner on the third Sunday in February. It also plays a role in raising monies for local charities and has supported many London Amateur Boxing Clubs over the years. In addition to its wider community role LEBA also plays a role in ensuring that the welfare of its members is taken care of.
LEBA is one of 32 former boxers’ associations in Britain. Although these associations are not linked to a national movement there are strong links between all the associations. As well as inviting leading figures from the boxing fraternity to its Annual Awards’ Dinner LEBA ensures that that there is a strong representation from its sister organisations at its main event of the year.
LEBA has now taken steps to place on line the history of London boxing. In the initial phase priority will be given to fulfilling our commitment to HLF. Once we have completed the project we will expand the web site to cover the story of boxing for the whole of London.
Article written circa 2000