Dai Dower

Dai Dower (b. 1933) was a flyweight whose outstanding skills raised hopes in Wales that he would be the country’s first world champion since Jimmy Wilde.

The Abercynon man lost just four of 104 amateur bouts, his final defeat coming in his last fight as an amateur, a controversial loss to a Russian fighter at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics.

His skills and lightning speed served him well as a young professional, and his career was advanced quickly.

At the age of 20 after just 13 fights he was handed a testing assignment against 30-year-old former world champion Terry Allen.

The Welshman came through with flying colours, stopping his experienced opponent in two rounds.

Eighteen months later, Dower was pitched in against South African Jake Tuli for the Empire flyweight title.

Dower’s speed and sublime straight left took him to a comfortable victory and he was congratulated in his dressing room by Jimmy Wilde, arguably the greatest flyweight of them all.

Thousands turned out on the streets of Abercynon for his homecoming, but after this success frustrations began to hit Dower’s career.

A world title shot at Japanese champion Yoshio Shirai was arranged at Harringay, but the bout was vetoed by the British Boxing Board of Control because Dower was not the British champion.

Dower had to fight Eric Marsden for the vacant British belt, the Welshman claiming a hard-fought points win.

It was a busy month for Dower who married his fiancee Evelyn four days later, before fighting for the European crown.

The newly wed claimed an easy win over champion Nazzareno Giannelli, adding the European belt to his British and Empire crowns.

Dower was keen to chase his missed opportunity against Shirai, but the world champion – the first Japanese fighter to hold such an honour – agreed a series of fights with Argentina’s Pascual Perez.

Meanwhile, Dower’s skills were starting to slip, his decline accelerated by a period of National Service in the army where the unsuitable food saw him pile on weight.

Poor preparations weakened him ahead of a European defence against Young Martin, and the Spaniard’s brutal body punching almost cut the champion in two.

Dai Dower (Photo: Dai Dower Facebook page)

Dai Dower (Photo: Dai Dower Facebook page)

Dower was put on the floor 11 times in a humiliating defeat, although his sense of humour remained intact.

The next day he told his father: “The side’s all right, but my bloody knees are killing me!”

Abercynon’s finest returned with a successful defence of his Empire belt against Jake Tuli, but the champion was again sent to the canvas in the fight.

Perez, meanwhile, was on his way to establishing the credentials that would see him recognised as an all-time great, the only blemish on his record being a draw with Shirai.

Dower was given a shot against the Argentine, but he had to travel to the champion’s home turf, the bout set for Buenos Aires.

This would be the Welshman’s first fight outside the UK, but more troubling were the weight problems that left him badly weakened going into the bout.

The first world title challenge made by a British fighter in South America ended after just two minutes and 48 seconds as Dower was stopped in the first round.

The Welshman would fight twice more, but the Perez defeat was effectively the end of his career.

Dower retired at the age of 25, having won 34 of his 37 bouts in a five-year career.

His post-fight career saw him working as a PE teacher while turning out as a scrum-half for Bournemouth Rugby Football Club.


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3 Responses to Dai Dower

  1. David huw James November 28, 2013 at 9:23 pm #

    My father Derek James was in the army with Dai Dower and we have good memories and photographs of Dai with his Lonsdale belt.

    • Sean Davies November 29, 2013 at 8:44 am #

      Hi David, thanks for the comment. If you/your father have any stories about Dai that you’d like to share here, please feel free…

  2. Kristian Humphreys July 1, 2017 at 1:28 pm #

    Dower is my great uncle

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