The remarkable story of Nipper Pat Daly (1913-88) – whose real name was Patrick Clifford Daley – has been told in a book by his grandson, Alex Daley.
His 120 recorded bouts see him deservedly ranked in any list of great Welsh fighters, but the 1,102 rounds of his career were all fought before he had reached the age of 18.
Born in Abercrave but raised in London, the tiny, fragile-looking Daly was pushed into boxing by his poverty-stricken family and incredibly took his first professional fight at the age of nine.
The youngster was a prodigious talent, though, and his regular bouts against grown men attracted huge crowds.
He left school to become a full-time professional at the age of 14, but was paid a pittance by his exploitative manager and trainer, ‘Professor’ Andrew Newton.
At the same age he sparred with Mickey Walker and impressed both the reigning world champion and his manager Jack ‘Doc’ Kearns with his talent.
Daly was regularly compared to the great ‘Ghost with the Hammer in his Hand’ Jimmy Wilde, and Wilde himself sang the praises of the youngster in his newspaper columns.
Between the ages of 14 and 16, Daly had more than 70 contests, including 25 wars that lasted 15 rounds. At the age of 15, Daly beat both the Italian and German flyweight champions and was being lined up for a shot at the British crown before he outgrew the weight.
He continued to impress and gain notable scalps at bantamweight, and at the age of 16 became the youngest boxer ever to be ranked in Ring magazine’s top 10 for a weight division.
His manager’s refusal to let Daly fight in the US denied him a chance to face world featherweight champion Battling Battalino, and weight problems for the growing boy contributed to an eight-round defeat against British champion Johnny Cuthbert when the youngster was ahead on points.
Daly moved up to lightweight but was still having weight-making problems, and he suffered concussion following a heavy knockout from Seaman Tommy Watson.
Newton rushed him back too soon, and he was again knocked out by Nobby Baker. Daly was given four months off, but when he returned he was never the same.
By the age of 17, the boy from Abercrave had been in 120 fights and lost just 11 times. Although he had never challenged for a title, he had defeated three British champions, a European champion and the reigning national champions of Italy, Germany and Belgium.
Newton’s scandalous schedule of fights had left Daly a physical wreck and destroyed one of boxing’s greatest prospects. He retired from the ring in 1931, but stayed in the sport as a trainer and gym owner.