1953 Ernie Barrett
I positively loved school life, well at least I loved school sporting life. I played on one or two occasions for the school cricket team, competed at athletics in the district sports, learnt to fence (epee) with Mr. Levy; who remembers Mr. Levy? However, I was most passionate about boxing.
I got the bug in the first year. At the time we all had to take part in a one round one minute fight. I can remember all my opponents throughout the years. Henry Golder, Richard Ellingford, Karnel Singh and in the last year Brian Ritson who had left the school the year before. I had won the schools championship in 1953 and could not find a suitable opponent in my year. Now for the funny bit. For my endeavours at boxing I won a school prize, picked by Mr. Hicks himself. The title of the book, ‘A beginners guide to the noble art of self defence’.
Left School 1953. I was in form 4X. I was conscripted into National Service, Royal Signals, and a good I.Q. result saw me attend Leeds Poly whence I studied for GCEs. Whilst in the Army I won the ISBA Boxing Championships at Bantam weight. Continuing studies after National Service I won a scholarship to John Ruskin College, Oxford, reading Politics and Economics. At this time I am studying psychology at U.E.L.
I’ve had and still enjoy a very exciting life, having been a singer with a big band, a photographer, the founder of several newspapers (including The Local Free Sheet and The Yellow Advertiser), a Sports Promoter in Florida and latterly the owner and C.E.O. of a detergent manufacturing company and a computer software house. I’m very happily married to ex-Mayfield girl, Lynne Thomas. We live on Canvey Island and have three children.
I often think about the teachers who never gave up on us poor unfortunate, backward souls of 4X, and in particular my Form Master Mr. Braham, English Master Mr. Bradley and P.E. Master, Mr Frankland.
In 1962, along with two other British boxers, I won the ‘European Railways Boxing Championship’ in Poland. The photo shows me, in the white top, boxing the Polish Olympic Silver Medalist at Bantam Weight, whom I beat on points. This was probably my best sporting achievement.
In 1964 I took part in the British Rail one mile track championship. Among the starters were British International Mike Porteus and Britain’s youngest sub-four minute miler, Walter Wilkinson. By winning the race I became the only person ever to win two individual British Rail Championships at different sporting events. Unfortunately, I was beaten into second place in the final of the 1500 metres at the European track championships by another British runner, John Simmons.
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