Davey was in the dressing room in Shoreditch Town Hall. He’d finished his Lucky cigarette. Now he was waiting for Teddy to wrap his hands. Teddy had gone out half an hour ago, he’d be making himself busy, picking up boxing gossip, making bets or laying them off for Solly. Teddy was his trainer but he worked for Solly. Solly might call himself a promoter but his real work was for Jackie Spot – or ‘Mr. Spot’ as everyone called him to his face.

He shouldn’t have told Teddy he’d got his call up papers. Teddy had said, ‘You’re a good fighter, Davey. Spot’s invested money in you. He don’t want you fucking off somewhere. What’s this country ever done for the Jews? The Arabs try wiping out Israel, whose side the British Army’s going to be on? You could end up fighting yer own. We’ll have a word. He’ll look after yer. Find you a few bits and pieces, maybe even a couple of fights, long as you don’t mind taking on Gypsies out in the open air.” Davey knew what sort of work it would be. There wouldn’t be anything that wasn’t hooky if he went on the trot, so how long was that going to last? Besides everyone said Spot wasn’t the strength he used to be since that robbery went wrong – what they were calling ‘Battle of Heathrow.’

Davey was in the red corner. That meant he was the house fighter. He was supposed to win. Spot would have his money on him except the other guy (who came from over west somewhere – White City maybe or Notting Hill) didn’t seem to have heard. He kept boring in head first. Davey said to him in a clinch “mind my eyes, I’ve got another fight next week” but the guy just grunted and put the nut in again.

It was a six rounder, by the end of Round Four Davey reckoned that even with honest scoring he’d be a few points ahead, but the other guy kept sticking his nut in and the referee was looking the other way. When Davey sat down first thing Teddy said was “Change of plan. Money’s on him not you. Take the fall. Betting says next round.’

The guy came racing out, soon as the bell went, headfirst again. Davey was going to throw himself down but then something went in his mind. He moved left, hooked to the head then hooked right to the body, hit him in what the Yanks call ‘the sweet spot.’ Davey knew the opponent wouldn’t beat the count by the way he looked as he went down, and Davey’s career went with him.

Teddy would hardly look at him in the dressing room. ”You cunt, take yer own gloves off, I’m going before the leg breakers get here,’ was all he said. Davey got out a bit sharpish too, but he’d thought about a couple of the Maltese who owed him a favour. They’d look after him.

Two nights later he was on deck as they passed Southend Pier. “Wonder when I’ll be back,” he thought. Still Sweden could be all right. They had boxing and all them beautiful blondes.


Fictional – but only just.

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