Jack Scarrott

Jack Scarrott was one of the most famous of the boxing booth owners who did much to shape the careers of the greatest names in Welsh boxing from its first golden era.

Jack Scarrott, Jimmy Wilde, George Ballieau and daughter Peggy

Jack Scarrott, Jimmy Wilde, George Ballieau and daughter Peggy (Photo: Lawrence Davies)

Johnny Basham, arguably Newport’s greatest fighter, was just one of those men, and he said of Scarrott:

“Jack Scarrott has had, I should think, every champion of Wales in his booth at one time or another.”

Scarrott was born in Newport in March 1870 and died in October 1947 at the age of 77.

The booth owner himself was unsure of his age, meaning that many of his obituaries are inaccurate.

The following descriptions of Scarrott are given in Jimmy Wilde‘s 1938 autobiography “Fighting was my Business“:

“Scarrott was a grand fellow and for 50 years and more he carried his booth throughout the mountains and valleys of south Wales.

“Among boxing enthusiasts he was wholeheartedly popular, and he had some of the finest boxers in the world through his hands.

Jack Scarrott, Jim Driscoll, Llew Edwards, Jimmy Wilde, Percy Jones, Ermin Long

Jack Scarrott, Jim Driscoll, Llew Edwards, Jimmy Wilde, Percy Jones, Ermin Long (clockwise from back right), photo courtesy of Lawrence Davies

“A boxing booth is the finest training ground for a fighter. He’s got to win to last.

“Scarrott, in the early days, had helped to make me, as he had helped to make many other champions.

“Little known, hard-working, certainly not wealthy, it is Jack and his fellow booth owners who prepare the champions of the boxing world.

“I have always believed the booths get too little attention, and that many world-beaters in the making never get more than a pound a fight.”

The booth owner is a prominent character in Alexander Cordell’s 1984 novel “Peerless Jim“, a fictional account of the life and times of Jim Driscoll.

Cordell claims that the book is based on “known facts”, and he gives this description of Scarrott (from the perspective of Driscoll):

“He was a bandy dwarf of a man, thick-set and hairy, and all his wealth must have been in his gold-toothed smile. With a grey bowler on his head, set at a jaunty angle, he regarded me with the benevolence of a father.”

The veracity and context of Cordell’s research does need to be questioned, though, and the fictional description of him does not in any way accord with the surviving photographs that are available.

Books:

One Response to Jack Scarrott

  1. Orlando Thomas July 2, 2016 at 9:21 am #

    I met a gentleman on the ferry from Liverpool to Dublin who is involved in the fairground rides and we talked about the Smart and Chiperfield families. He suggested i look up this site. I am sure my father Thomas James Thomas from Bargoed travelled with Mr Scarott’s boxing booth, he often mentioned his time at the fairgrounds and in his later years always made a visit to the travelling boxing booths when in town. I have a couple of old photos of him in his boxing days. I believe he was a welter weight champion and a contender for the Lonsdale belt.
    Regards his son Orlando

Leave a Reply