Francis Rossi’s Great War: Welsh boxers in World War I

As part of a series looking at the history of the most prominent Welsh boxers during World War I, we consider the experiences of Francis Rossi.

Royal Artillery troops in World War I

Royal Artillery troops in World War I

The early life and career of Pontypridd’s Rossi are obscure, but he seems to have been a young and promising boxer at the outset of the Great War.

His career history on the BoxRec website seems to be incomplete, but his first recorded bout was in 1915 and he is known to have competed 10 times in the course of the war.

The last of those fights was in August 1917 and his first post-war bout was on 14 November, 1918, just three days after the end of hostilities.

This could suggest that Rossi’s military service interrupted his fledgling boxing career – the Welshman is known to have served in the Royal Artillery during the war, when he spent time in Marseilles.

Rossi’s known boxing record to this point was uninspiring, but he still seems to have been a young man and his burgeoning reputation won him a big local reputation in post-war Wales.

That was enough to secure him a high-profile bout against an ageing Jim Driscoll, the old master having enough left in the tank to earn a 20-round draw that many felt he should have won.

That was perhaps the high point of Rossi’s career. He would fight on for another 10 years, the last six of them spent campaigning in the US where he settled and made his home.

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