Fred Dyer

The multi-talented Fred Dyer was renowned as an outstanding boxer, singer and swimmer.

Born in Cardiff in 1888 to a Welsh father and Irish mother, Dyer was raised in poverty and turned to the boxing booths to make ends meet.

This was discovered, meaning that the Welshman was unable to compete at either boxing or swimming in the 1908 London Olympics.

‘The Singing Boxer’ made his professional debut in 1909 and went on a 16-fight winning run, an early career Johnny Basham amongst his victims.

A knee injury early in his career meant that Dyer never quite fulfilled his true potential, but his record remains impressive.

In 1914 he travelled to Australia where he campaigned successfully, while also impressing with his singing and shadow boxing.

On 9 October, 1915, the Cardiffian faced Les Darcy, arguably Australia’s greatest-ever boxer and a man who was recognised in Australia as the world middleweight champion.

The bout at the Sydney Stadium was billed as being for the title, but Darcy proved too strong for his opponent, stopping the Welshman in the sixth.

Fred Dyer

Fred Dyer in military uniform

Dyer decided to try his luck in the US, and during his time there claimed a memorable victory over Panama Joe Gans.

A shot at Ted ‘Kid’ Lewis’s world welterweight title was on the cards, but this was scuppered when the champion suffered a finger injury.

His knee injury had ruled Dyer out of military service in World War I, and he spent the war years in Australia and the US working as a boxing instructor for their army, while still fighting and performing in vaudeville shows.

He went on to have a successful career as a boxing manager and trainer, but he disappeared from view and his later life is shrouded in obscurity.

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