Johnny Williams

Johnny Williams (1926-2007) was a cautious and classy operator whose under-spoken skills took him to the British and Empire heavyweight titles.

Born in Barmouth, his family moved to Rugby when he was a toddler and he used his fists to deal with playground taunting.

Williams was boxing in the booths from the age of 10, but officially turned professional after the war in 1946. The north Walian often gave away size and power to his opponents, so needed to rely on his skills, cunning, grit and determination.

A May 1948 loss to Don Cockell was the first meeting of a memorable rivalry between the pair, the defeat just the second in Williams’s busy career to that date. The Welshman avenged the setback two months later in Birmingham when he stopped Cockell inside two rounds.

Williams’s July 1950 points loss to Jack Gardner – an eliminator for the British and Empire titles – saw both men hospitalised afterwards, and the bout is regarded as one of the most debilitating in the history of British boxing.

A rematch was inevitable, and when Williams claimed revenge with a March 1952 points win he took the British and Empire belts from Gardner’s waist.

The Welshman was himself dethroned by old-rival Cockell seven months later, a win that would propel the Battersea man towards his world title shot against Rocky Marciano.

In 1955 Williams again faced Gardner in an eliminator for his old British and Empire belts, but this time Gardner stopped his familiar opponent in five rounds.

The Barmouth man would get one more shot at title glory, a huge north-south Wales derby against Cardiff’s fast-rising Joe Erskine for the British belt that had been left vacant when Cockell retired.

The fans were out in numbers at Cardiff’s Maindy Stadium – despite the drenching they received from the heavy August rain – and they were rewarded as local hero Erskine claimed the crown on points.

Williams would fight just once more – a November 1956 stoppage defeat against Joe Bygraves – before retiring with a record showing 60 wins, 11 defeats and four draws.

He largely stayed away from the sport after his retirement and worked as a farmer near Rugby.

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4 Responses to Johnny Williams

  1. Jane mozley February 1, 2015 at 3:53 pm #

    Has anyone got any footage of johnny williams winning the lonsdale belt against jack gardner please

  2. Mike August 22, 2016 at 8:28 pm #

    I have the footage, I also have the gloves from the actual fight
    Signed by both fighters
    I knew Johnny well


    • John A Jones November 6, 2016 at 5:57 pm #

      Very interesting. I am a cousin of Johnny,s and have a copy of the first Gardner fight. Would you share your copy of the one that Johnny won. As a youngster I used to spend my summer holidays with him and Jocey at their farm in Rugby.

      J A Jones

    • Jane January 14, 2017 at 1:22 pm #

      Hi Mike
      Is there anyway I could possible get a copy of the footage
      I don’t mind covering the costs

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