Hamer ABC hopes to recognise famous boxing champion Jock McAvoy “The Rochdale Thunderbolt” with a statue in Falinge Park

Date published: 13 March 2019

Hamer Amateur Boxing Club and Community Fitness Centre members are hoping to recognise legendary boxing champion Jock McAvoy – “The Rochdale Thunderbolt” – with a statue in Falinge Park, Rochdale.

McAvoy’s illustrious career spanned from 1927 to 1945, winning 132 contests whilst losing only 14, according to BoxRec official boxing records. Of this, 88 wins were by knock-out.

Although born in Burnley as Joseph Patrick Bamford in 1908, McAvoy moved to Rochdale at a very young age and started boxing and training at numerous gyms within the town, including Hamer Amateur Boxing Club.  

Regarded as one of the greatest boxers of all time, McAvoy was never knocked out in his 18-year career and won the Lonsdale Belt outright by defending the British title three times. It was a title he never lost.

McAvoy was awarded the British middleweight title in Manchester on 10 April 1933, after defeating Len Harvey on points.

They would again face off in the British and Commonwealth (British Empire) light-heavyweight title at White City Stadium, London on 10 July 1939, a fight which drew an all-time British attendance record of over 94,000 fight fans.

Although only a middleweight, McAvoy also fought for the British and Commonwealth (British Empire) heavyweight titles against the champion Jack Peterson on 23 April 1936. Unfortunately, he lost on points after 15 gruelling rounds.

McAvoy also won the British light-heavyweight title in London on 27 April 1937, knocking out Eddie Phillips for the title.

Now, Hamer ABC wants to recognise the boxer’s achievements with a permanent statue of The Rochdale Thunderbolt, having formed a small committee to get the project off the ground.

Head coach at Hamer ABC, Steven Connellan said: “The young people of Hamer Amateur Boxing Club and Community Fitness Centre feel that this town needs to respect this great sporting icon's achievement by erecting a statue in his honour.

“Incredibly, although there are numerous statues of boxers up and down the country, there is not one in Greater Manchester.                                                       

“Let's make Rochdale proud and be the first town in Manchester to do this: it is a great project for our young people and will be an inspiration to all of the youngsters within the Rochdale community.

“To get a statue of someone they admire placed in their own town is something they will be able to take forward throughout their lives.

“I would also like to thank Councillor Janet Emsley for all her advice and Councillor Sultan Ali for his support, along with the Manchester Ex-boxers Association.”     

Councillor Emsley said: “It is great that a group of enthusiasts are looking to commemorate Jock McAvoy, aka the Rochdale Thunderbolt, in this way.

“He was from humble roots in Burnley and had a phenomenal record in the ring, recording 88 knockouts. The group are hoping to erect a statue and are in the preliminary stages of fundraising for the project: I wish them well.”

Members of Hamer ABC hope the public, sporting groups and businesses will join their committee to help them achieve this project. 

The club will be starting their fundraising events with a bag pack at Morrisons and a fun filled fundraising event in Falinge Park in the summer.

A meeting will also be set up in the park.

If you would like to get involved with this project, whether as part of the committee or as an organisation, please contact Steven Connellan of Hamer Amateur Boxing Club and Community Fitness Centre on Tel: 07719 883 088.

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