Llew Edwards’ 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 Llew Edwards.

Boxing at the National Sporting Club

Boxing at the National Sporting Club

The recorded professional record of Edwards starts in January 1913 and the Porth man quickly built a large following with his skilful and entertaining displays.

Having established a local fan base with bouts in the Rhondda, he soon graduated to bigger stages in Cardiff, Liverpool and at the home of British boxing, London’s National Sporting Club.

He fought 34 times before the outbreak of the war, his record showing two points defeats and one draw but 31 wins, and when the war started he was on a 22-fight winning run.

Titles, fame and glory beckoned, but the war would send Edwards on an unexpected course, a path that would put paid to much of his popularity at home.

Unlike so many of his contemporaries he did not join the armed forces, but continued fighting – and winning – in the ring.

Edwards’ evasion of the war cost him popularity at home

In the first year of the war he fought and won eight times, four of those bouts being held in the auspicious surroundings of the National Sporting Club.

The last was a high-profile title clash, Edwards winning the Commonwealth and British featherweight crowns when his opponent – the redoubtable Owen Moran – was disqualified in the 10th.

But interest in such exploits was waning and criticism of non-combatants growing as the carnage escalated on the western front and – rather than pitching himself into that conflict – Edwards chose to head to the other side of the world.

The Welshman continued his career in Australia, successfully defending his Commonwealth title against Jimmy Hill at the Sydney Stadium in December 1915.

Sydney Stadium, Australia, in 1913

Sydney Stadium, Australia, in 1913

He spent the rest of the war plying his trade in Australia, finding great success in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. Of 34 fights down under in the period 1915-18, Edwards won 27, drew three and lost four, becoming Australian lightweight champion along the way.

Edwards’ evasion of the war cost him popularity at home, though, and he would fight just once more in the UK, a 1920 win over Johnny Regan at the Pheasant Inn Grounds, Carbrook, Yorkshire.

He spent the four post-war years of his career campaigning in the Philippines, Australia and the USA.

His four US fights in 1920 saw him in pursuit of a shot at the world crown, but by this point he had passed his peak.

Edwards had comfortably and successfully avoided the horrors of the western front, but the war had still cost him dearly.

At the peak of his career he had been denied the opportunity to compete on the greatest stage and to gain the shot at a world title that his talent surely merited.

Perhaps even more painfully, Edwards had lost the love and respect of many of his countrymen, and his name is not remembered in the same way as those of Jim Driscoll and Jimmy Wilde, nor is it spoken of with the same levels of awe and affection,

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One Response to Llew Edwards’ Great War: Welsh boxers in World War I

  1. Roselle July 29, 2014 at 4:13 pm #

    Llew was not welsh he was born in Shropshire

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