WARWICK-BORN black British world champion boxer Randolph Turpin and his ‘colour bar’ breaking brother Dick have received ‘long-overdue’ national recognition.
The British Boxing Board of Control, the sport’s governing body in the UK, honoured their achievements – along with brother Jackie – at its annual awards show in London on Sunday.
It recognised the late brothers’ contribution to UK boxing, and to black British sport, with their nearest relatives in attendance to receive the award.
Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western also attended after lobbying the government and major boxing institutions to give national recognition to the brothers.
On the night, former world light-heavyweight title winner John Conteh said his love of boxing was inspired by the brothers – while world championship winner in two weight-classes Joe Calzaghe also paid his respects.
Dick, Randolph and Jackie Turpin were born in Warwick in the 1920s but also spent much of their life in neighbouring Leamington.
Eldest brother Dick was the first black athlete to win a British title after the Board of Control lifted the so-called ‘colour bar’ in 1948 – which had blocked non-white boxers from competing for the nation’s biggest prizes.
He went on to win the middleweight title on the global stage at the Commonwealth Games that same year.
But Randolph eclipsed his brother’s achievements and became the first black British world champion in 1951 when he beat boxing great Sugar Ray Robinson in a middleweight title fight in London.
Jackie enjoyed a ten-year professional boxing career and ran Warwick Racing Club Boxing Gym – continuing to train there until he was 80-years-old.
Dick fought in the army during the Second World War while Randolph and Jackie served in the Royal Navy.
There is a statue of Randolph in Warwick town square and a newly erected blue plaque marking Dick’s achievements outside Sainsbury’s in Saltisford.
They were secured by chairman of the Randolph Turpin Memorial Fund Adrian Bush.
Dick’s son Keith Turpin – who attended the awards ceremony – said: “On behalf of all our families we would like to say thank you to all involved in recognising our fathers’ – the ‘fighting Turpins’ – contribution to the sport of boxing.
“With my dad Dick breaking the colour bar, with uncle Randy becoming the first black British world champion and uncle Jack keeping their legacy alive by opening boxing gyms which are still training to this day, our family blazed the trail for others to represent their country.
“Special thanks to Matt Western for his campaigning in parliament and to Adrian Bush for his tireless work over the years to keep our name alive.”
Mr Western held a debate in the House of Commons commemorating the 70th anniversary of Randolph’s world title victory last July – and pledged to secure the boxing brothers the ‘national recognition they deserve.’
“To see Jackie, Randy – the ‘Leamington Licker’ – and Dick finally honoured was emotional for everyone but particularly for the Turpin family,” he said.
“Randy and Dick particularly are two of the most important yet under-appreciated men in our nation’s boxing history and together they transformed British sport.
“Dick punched through the glass ceiling which saw other black British sportsmen barred for their skin colour while Randolph beat arguably the greatest boxer of all time – and inspired generations of black fighters to believe they too could compete at the highest level.”