Johnny! Story of the Happy Warrior: Book review

A meticulously researched and well-written work that admirably achieves its aim of keeping alive the legend of one of Wales’ true boxing greats, ‘Laughing’ Johnny Basham, known as ‘The Happy Warrior’.

Basham is one of the early Welsh boxers who has somehow slipped out of the national consciousness, unlike contemporaries such as Jim Driscoll and Freddie Welsh.

Roderick’s book leaves no room to doubt the fact that Basham should be placed at the heart of the early history of Welsh boxing and is arguably Newport’s greatest ever fighter.

The achievements, cheerfulness and humour of Basham shine through the pages and bring the ‘Happy Warrior’ close to the modern-day reader.

Roderick has also gone to considerable length to illustrate the work with some wonderful period images.

If there is a slight criticism, it would be that the author sometimes chooses to describe events using the strict chronological order of when the sources were created, rather than feeding all the sources in to build the full picture of the event.

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