John H Stracey is a former boxer who trained at the notorious Recton Boxing Club in London. A World Champion, he’s won the British, European and World Welterweight Championships. I'm an avid supporter of boxing and the positives it provides with regards to attitude, aptitude and discipline but also fully aware of how drastically wrong things can go in the sport—and in any sport. I met John last week where I enjoyed listening to his stories of victory, of his youth and how he got into boxing. Unbeknown to John, my attack in twenty-fourteen (by someone I worked with [a client/patient]) acted out Muhammad Alli’s ‘moves’ on me and those actions changed my life.
Donna Siggers with John H Stracey
John won five championships by the age of eighteen and he accomplished an unbeaten run of twenty-eight fights in three years before turning professional. Becoming the undisputed Welterweight Champion of the World in Mexico City in 1975 (I don't recall this as I would have been three) was the highlight of John’s career. You can visibly see the pride on his face when he shows you his belt, despite the years that have passed. Boxing is in John’s blood.
At just eleven (I believe) his father was frustrated at the amount of fights his young son was getting into, so took him to the famous club, which was local to their East End home. Recton has produced more than its share of champions, John included—and he’d brush shoulders with the Kray twins while he was training here. That’s a story I will leave for you to hear from the man himself! Growing up, John was friends with the Kray’s nephew, so has plenty of East End stories from his teens that will captivate anyone interested in the history of that era.
Despite having hung up his gloves John continues his association with boxing through charity work. For those of you who’ve seen the original film “The Krays”, John trained the Kemp brothers to box and choreographed those scenes. He was also in the ring for the film—the one to get ‘knocked out’ on the big screen... [in John’s words] “by Spandau Ballet”. He certainly added authenticity to these scenes and listening to him speak answered many questions I’d had as to how they’d pulled this off so well.
John is a fantastic after dinner speaker, tours with various boxing names and the occasional ex villain. It was the latter—with Eddie Richardson—that I heard him speak and enjoyed the stories he shared. The man can sing too and entertained us for a time with a few songs.