PEGGY NEWTON, A LEBA PIONEER by Stephen Powell (Pres.)Posted by Paul Fairweather on 2nd May 2013
The sad passing of Mrs. Peggy Newton on April 17th 2013, brought about the close of one of LEBA’s earliest chapters, for Peggy was one of the first, great characters that nurtured the embryonic idea that became the Ex Boxers Association of the capital.
Being probably the first woman to attend a meeting primarily because of the fact that she was married to Andy Newton, the renowned middleweight who being totally blind, she accompanied to the early meetings as his carer. However, she did have to wait in an adjacent room with the other wives. No ladies allowed in those days, and no moans about it either.
Andy, being the son of Professor Andrew Newton, the famous boxing manager trainer, and promoter of the Marylebone School of Arms, could be described as Boxing through and through, but Peggy, her talents were far more diverse.
Peggy, who married Andy in 1946 (10th Aug); would accompany him to the gym, and to the many venues where, billed as the ‘Blind Wonder’, he would exhibit his skills, on various versions of punch balls, bags, gym apparatus, he skipped, and even sparring with sighted boxers. All the while Peggy would assist with bandaging, lacing on the gloves, setting up equipment and packing it away for storage.
When LEBA was founded in 1971, Andy was a founding member, and it was not too long after, that Peggy suggested that LEBA should have a newsletter, and gaining a positive nod from the committee set about producing one.
This little periodical she named “Seconds Out”. She collected, edited, and typed up the articles on the old style “Roneo Onion Skins” which were then attached to the hand powered ‘Roller copier’. Andy would stand and turn the handle of this ancient machine to print off the sheets, which Peggy then collated and stapled together. Thus, LEBA members had a monthly bulletin. What great pioneering stuff all this was, and we still have the ‘Seconds Out’ to this very day. Peggy’s journalistic talents probably came from her father, John Murray, the once editor of ‘Boxing’ (News).
I can remember the many occasions that I had to personally call round to see Peg and Andy at home, what a place for a young boxing fan to visit. The place was stacked with boxing equipment of vintage age, along with bundles of ‘Boxing News’, bound volumes of various magazines, numerous books, and even full sets of ‘Boxiana’ and ‘Pugilistica’. Obviously Peggy and Andy’s knowledge of boxing was extensive to say the least, and discussions on the present, past, and future of boxing, filled many a happy hour for me.
I was given the privilege of collecting by car Andy, for the monthly meetings, so again I got the opportunity to observe Peg in action.
Having not to accompany Andy these occasions, she seized the chance to pursue some of her other talents. She was a talented artist, and a staunch communist, and when combining the two, she produced some beautiful ‘Marching Banners’, for various Trade Unions and local branches of the Communist and Labour parties. The times, I called and found a full size banner draped across the living room, with all Peg’s paints, cottons and silk cuts strewn everywhere, complete organised chaos!
Peg and Andy’s daughter Andrea, passed on the following recollections of Peggy in a recent letter;
“Mum was born on 9th May 1920 and died on 17th April 2013 so she was almost 93. She married dad on 10th August 1946. She was by trade a dressmaker although that is a scant description of her talents. She could sew knit and crochet anything she chose to turn her hand to. She was also a talented artist. Right up until very recent years she wrote occasional articles for the Black Country Bugle about old time boxing and boxers. Up until she went into the nursing home she used to cut out 1960s. I can remember being very frightened at the prospect of a nuclear war and being sent off, by her, on my first Aldermaston March at the tender age of 13. Because she couldn’t leave dad I suppose I was her stand in. She used to meet us on the last day with a bag full of homemade hot cross buns. She lost interest in the Communist Party after she moved up here in the 1980s, mainly I think because of all the faction and splits that went on around this time.
I suppose I could write pages about all the things that she did with her life. I had great problems when I spoke to the celebrant conducting her funeral service. There are just so many things that could be said about her life and many talents.”
I can only endorse Andrea’s words about the amount that could be said about ‘our Peggy’, if only space and time would permit.
Finally, it must be said that at 93yrs. Peg had a good and long life, during which she found time to put in the effort and help the London Ex Boxers Association, to get organised and become, the biggest organisation of its kind in the world!
Thank you Peggy for our ‘Seconds Out’, and all that you did for LEBA, may you now rest in peace.
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