Sunday, June 29, 2008

York Hall

I went along to a Thai Boxing promotion in York Hall last week. Two guys from Jackapong were fighting, so we were supporting them, and they both won by the way, but I was also keen to visit the place itself deep in the heart of East End "knees up" territory whence I seldom venture.

The Evening Standard waxed lyrical about it when it was threatened with closure half a decade ago:
York Hall is to boxing what Wembley is to football and Lord's is to cricket. If it were possible to wring out an atmosphere heavy with sweat, smoke and noise, the residue would fill a dozen of the spit buckets that reside beneath the ring's red and blue corner posts.

It is said that acclaimed American writer AJ Liebling of the New Yorker made a pilgrimage so that he could sample for himself York Hall's unique ambience.

Liebling's countryman, former world heavyweight champion ' Terrible' Tim Witherspoon, flew the Atlantic specially so that he could say he fought in a ring where spectators can almost touch the gloves of the boxers by leaning over from their seats in the balcony.

That, and particularly the second sentence, is probably laying it on a bit thick, but it is a fine venue. I'm a sucker for stuff like:
Former world welterweight champion John H Stracey used to jog to his schoolboy fights at York Hall from the family home behind the Blind Beggar pub, infamous for its association with the Kray twins.


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