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Wolverhampton Civic Hall's 70th boxing bash

Staffordshire | Sport | Published:

Wolverhampton Civic Hall will celebrate 70 years of professional boxing at the venue on Saturday March 9 with an all-day exhibition and a full fight bill.

Paid contests have been taking place at the Civic for longer than any other hall in the country, punches first being traded under on their roof on 8 March 1943 on a show headlined by Jack London.

The Express & Star were the major sponsors of the event in what was a charity fundraiser for their 'Comforts Fund,' with proceeds going to help those in the Second World War effort.

A total of 1,170 fighters have boxed at the Civic since that day including 21 centurions - who have competed 100 times or more - Wolverhampton's Nigel Rafferty among them.

Eight British title fights have taken place at the venue, the first a points win by defending lightweight Maurice Cullen against Viv Andreetti on 30 November 1965.

All 1,170 have been invited to receive a minted and engraved medal at the anniversary event, from 1pm when doors open at the Civic for the daytime exhibition.

Interviews with the boxers will take place on the stage with pundit Nigel Turner expecting to talk to the likes of Rafferty, Bunny Johnson and Cannock's Ron Gray.

Gray boxed and later promoted pro shows at the venue for over 25 years and the 70-year-old was inducted into the Civic's Black County Wall of Fame in 2008.

The hall will be filled with stalls of memorabilia and there are plans to stage amateur and exhibition bouts in the ring while the exhibition is taking place.

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Paul 'PJ' Rowson, show promoter and member of event organiser's the Central Ex-Boxers Association, believes the day will pay proper tribute to the city.

He said: "I consider the Civic to be the best boxing venue in the United Kingdom, there's not a bad seat in the house and it has got a lovely tradition.

"They always sing the praises of York Hall in London, but I think anybody around here will tell you the Civic has the better atmosphere."

The day schedule of events includes a short break from 5pm to 6pm, before a cabaret show begins ahead of the evening's pro boxing show.

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The main event will be a contest for the vacant English middleweight title between Birmingham's Thomas Costello and Bristol's Danny Butler.

Cradley's Chris Male and Stourbridge's Steven Pearce will take on six-rounders on the undercard, along with Northampton's Nathan Reeve.

Tipton's Ricky Summers, Cannock's Dave Egan, Bloxwich's Luke Paddock, Birmingham's Andrew Robinson and the returning Lance Brooks complete the card.

A Facebook group has been started for the event called 'Wolverhampton Civic - 70 Years of Boxing' and has attracted over 100 followers.

Those who follow the group will be automatically entered into a competition to win two tickets to the day event and ringside tickets to the evening show.

For more information and tickets, call 07976 283 157 or the Civic box office on 0870 320 7000.

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