Post First World War Leith of 1919, although a vibrant port had much social deprivation, unemployment was high, and the management of youth was of great concern.
It was in this climate that a group of enthusiastic workers from the Victoria shipyard of Messer’s Ramage and Ferguson collectively established a sports club in the shipyard area of Leith.
These men purchased an ex-army hut, and erected it on ground rented from the railway company adjacent to the Caledonian Station on Marine Parade.
Although established as a general sports club, its primary activities were wrestling, boxing and weightlifting, the premises and equipment were basic and simple; washing facilities consisted of a bucket of cold water, which was carried four hundred yards to the club.
The art of boxing soon became the sport in which the youth of the area showed most interest, the training conditions such as these produced untold qualities in the youth of the time, which carried them on to become great champions and lovers of the “Noble Art”.
The British Champion Tancy Lee began to show an interest in the club and became a coach, recruiting such notable boxers as Curly Peterson, Jock Stevenson, and ‘Nasher’ Ness.
In mid 1919, the club merged with Leith and Tollbooth Amateur Boxing Club, renaming the premises Leith Victoria Amateur Athletic Club.
At the time of the club’s merger, success was almost instantaneous at the 1920 Antwerp Olympics, boxers George McKenzie (Tancy Lee’s nephew, uncle Tancy being in his corner) and Alex Ireland won the Olympic bronze and silver medals.
TANCY LEE 1882-1941
Tancy was born in Paisley later moving to Kirkgate Leith, working as a labourer on the docks. Tancy claimed two Nationalities British and Irish, as his mother was Irish.
Tancy became boxing trainer to the Irish Free State (Eire) Army in Dublin, he served in the British Army during the Boer War 1899 to 1902 in South Africa serving with the Royal Scots. During the First World War he served with the Kings Own Scottish Boarders from 1916 to 1918.
Tancy won the Scottish and British Flyweight Championship in 1915, in this year Tancy won the European Flyweight Championship, he stepped up two weight divisions wining the British Featherweight Title in 1915-17 and the Irish Featherweight Championship in 1915-17.
Tancy twice successfully defended his title and in doing so became Scotland’s first-ever outright winner of a Lonsdale Belt. Tancy was also the first Scot to win two British titles (Flyweight and Featherweight) and what’s more, ‘Leither’ Lee beat the Welsh Flyweight regarded by many as the finest ever, Jimmy Wilde, in London in 1915 by stoppage.
Tancy was Leith Victoria A.A.C first trainer and coach guiding such notable boxers as
GEORGE McKENZIE 1900 - 1941
1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp Belgium George won a Bronze medal at Bantamweight.
1920 George McKenzie won the Scottish Bantamweight Title and the A.B.A Title.
1923 George McKenzie won the Scottish Flyweight Title.
ALEX IRELAND 1901 – 1966
Alex Ireland came from Leith, he originally trained to become a chemist.
In 1920 at the Olympic Games in Antwerp Belgium Alex won the Silver medal at Welterweight.
At the age of twenty in 1921, he won the Scottish Welterweight Title and the A.B.A Title.
In 1922, Alex turned professional wining the Scottish professional Welterweight Title on his fifteenth bout.
In 38 professional contests twenty-nine went the schedule distance, he was described as a complete boxer and a joy to watch, he was respected for his gentlemanly conduct in and out of the ring, his
lack of power punching but sound defence enabled him to boost that in six years of fighting among the top line fighter of his day he had never been stopped.
In 1925 when he was twenty-four Alex took a trip to South Africa for three contests in Johannesburg, there he amazed the local fans by out pointing Wally Baker their Middleweight Champion, Johnny Squires Heavyweight Champion and Bruno Frattini the former European Middleweight
JOHNNY HILL 1905 - 1929
He was born in 1905 in a tenement that still stands just off the capital's Leith Walk (Brunswick street), exploding onto the Scottish amateur boxing scene aged 19 in 1924, where he was trained by his dad and Scotland's first outright Lonsdale Belt winner James "Tancy" Lee at Edinburgh's Leith Victoria Amateur Athletic Club when Johnny won in quick succession the Scottish Flyweight, and Bantamweight titles.
In the 1926, he not only won the British ABA Flyweight Title in London's Albert Hall, but also was awarded the Best Boxer of the Championship Trophy.
Within a year of turning professional in 1927 Johnny stopped Englishman Alf Barber in the 14th round to take the British Flyweight crown.
The following year, 1928, the European Title was annexed from Frenchman Emile Pladner on points, despite being decked in the ninth round by a vicious left hook, Pladner would later win the title back by inflicting the only knockout defeat suffered by Hill.
The World Flyweight Title came on 29 August 1928 at Clapton Orient's football ground. There he fought Californian "Newsboy" Brown in front of 50,000 spectators, Hill won the title on points in a thrilling 15-round bout.
The Sporting Life reported: “there began the greatest Flyweight contest seen in this country since the war, culminating in a British victory and the return to this country of the world Flyweight Championship, which Jimmy Wilde lost to Pancho Villa in New York five years earlier”.
In 1938 Johnny died of a blood clot in his lung as the American fighter, Frankie Genaro was on his way to challenge him for the undisputed World Flyweight Title. Genaro only learned of Hill's death as he stepped off the ferry on England's South Coast, fight promoter Jeff Dickson broke the shocking news to the challenger.
Frankie Genaro ended up attending Hill's funeral in the late champion's adopted home of Strathmiglo Fife, on the very day that he and Hill should have been crossing gloves in the ring.
The 1985 edition of the British Board of Boxing Control Official Yearbook lists Hill on page 279 as being "Undefeated World Flyweight Champion 1928-29.”
In 1928, America’s most powerful boxing authority, the New York State Commission, recognised Edinburgh Flyweight Johnny Hill as the World Champion. Hill received the recognition from the NYSAC on 10th December 1928
In 1927, Jim won the Scottish Flyweight Title and A.B.A Title in London’s Albert Hall.
1930 at the British Empire Games in Hamilton, Canada Jim Rolland won a Gold medal, becoming the first Scot and Briton to win Empire Games (Commonwealth Games) Gold.
In the 1930’s Jim moved to Nottingham where he joined the police force as a police constable, Jim continued to box wining the European Police Lightweight Championship Title in Berlin.
Leith Victoria thought so highly of Jim that they arranged for him to return to Edinburgh for pre-fight training in the club before the 1934 British A.B.A final.
1924 Olympic Games in Paris, Jim won a Silver medal, making this the first pair of boxing brothers to win an Olympic medal.
1926 J. McKenzie won the Scottish Heavyweight
1927 J. McKenzie won the Scottish Light Heavyweight Title.
1929 J. McKenzie won the Scottish Heavyweight Title.
Alex won the Middleweight Title he also won three consecutive S.A.B.A Heavyweight Titles in 1932, 33 and 34, Alex repeated this by wining the Light Heavyweight Titles in 1931, 32 and 34.
Before his fight in 1934, Alex dived fully clothed into the Wembley’s Empire Pool to rescue club colleague Joe Connelly from drowning.
In 1938, Alex won the Scottish Professional Heavyweight Title.
In 1934 Tommy from Kirkliston won a Bronze Medal at the Commonwealth Games in London
Jackie won a Gold medal at the British Empire Games in Cardiff at Flyweight in July 1958, he had his first professional fight on 16 October 1958, in Paisley, defeating Mark Quinn in the third round on a technical knockout.
Jackie won his first fifteen fights before losing two in succession, to Derek Lloyd and Freddie Gilroy,
In October 1961, he defeated the young Walter McGowan, in only his third fight, winning on points over eight rounds in Paisley, the fight was in Birmingham against Brian Cartwright which Jackie won on points over fifteen rounds.
In December 1962 Jackie fought for the vacant Commonwealth Flyweight Title, against Orizu Obilaso, of Nigeria. Jackie was knocked down in the second round but went on to win on points.
In May 1963, he defended both his Flyweight Titles, against Walter McGowan, whom he had previously defeated, the fight was in Paisley, and Brown was knocked out in the twelfth round, losing both his titles.
Henceforth,Jackie fought as a Bantamweight, and held the Scottish area Bantamweight Title for a while.
His last fight was in October 1966, when he was stopped in the second round against George Bowes, in Newcastle.
On the 7th December 1940 James won the Eastern District Featherweight Title in the Leith Town Hall, a week later on the 14th December James then went on to win the Eastern District Lightweight Title. (See the certificates on the staircase wall).
1941 8th February James won the Scottish Lightweight Title, and then on the 8th March he won the Scottish Featherweight Title. (See the certificates on the staircase wall).
1943 James won the Scottish Welterweight Title and the Scottish Middleweight Title.
In 1944, James won the Scottish Middleweight Title.
BILLY BLACK 1941-2013.
Billy Black, who died aged 71, was a renowned amateur boxer, Billy was born in Penicuik to a family with boxing history his grandfather boxed for Scotland's oldest amateur boxing club, Leith Victoria A.A.C; Billy took up boxing in 1954.
One of the high points was winning the Eastern District Flyweight title in 1960 when there was a plethora of talented, eight-stone amateur boxers throughout Scotland. Andy Young, who subsequently won 10 titles at all levels, confronted Billy in that 1060 final but Billy knocked him out in three rounds – a triumph that made Billy Black Penicuik's first ever-amateur boxing champion.
By this time, Billy had joined his grandfather's former Leith Victoria A.A.C, where he came under the legendary coaching duo Joe Fortune and Jimmy Davies. There, faced with the superior skills of Scottish lightweight future world champions like Ken Buchanan and Glasgow's Jim Watt, Billy did not always triumph but his colourful crashing, bashing style made him not only hugely popular with fans but also beloved of boxing journalists.
The Scottish selectors knew a crowd-pleaser too when they saw one, capping Billy against England and Poland twice, Russia, Spain and Morocco.
After the latter international for refusing to remain in the ring, and showing dissent to the referee after the point’s verdict was declared in favour of the Moroccan. Billy was ‘sin die’ by the Scottish Amateur Boxing Association; He was later reinstated following a clamour among Scottish fans for his return
Between the years 1943 and 1948 and from the age of 16 years Eric boxed for the Air Training Corps and the Scots Guards wining many titles at Welter, Middle, and Light Heavy weight.
1947 won the Eastern District Title
1948 won the Scottish Light Heavyweight Title.
In 1949 won the Eastern District Title
In 1951, Marshall won the Scottish Light Heavyweight Title
Kenny joined Leith Victoria in 1975 when we were based in Sandport Street Leith; Kenny won the Eastern District Junior title in 1979, he was also a finalist in the Scottish Junior Championships in 1979.
Kenny joined Sparta A.A.C in 1980 when he won the Eastern District and Scottish titles and in 1981 Kenny won an Eastern District title.
Kenny returned to Leith Victoria in 1982., he retired from boxing in 1990 becoming a coach for the club until 2010.
Kenny is now a serving member on Leith Victoria committee.
Place of birth Malawi he left the African country of his birth when he was five months old and has lived in Scotland since.
Fundo had 34 wins and 5 losses as an amateur.
Fundo won the Scottish Welterweight Title, and the Four Nations Silver.
Fundo fought for his native country Malawi at Welterweight (69kg) at the Commonwealth Games 2006 where he lost in the second round to Nigerian Olufemi Ajayi.
In 2006, he moved up a division and became the first Scot to win a European boxing medal since Scott Harrison in 1996. He lost the semi-final controversially on points to Azeri Rahib Plavadov 18:23
1993 Bradley won the Scottish and British ABA Lightweight Title, making him the last Scotsman to win the original British ABA Lightweight Title.
Bradley was capped over twenty times for Scotland
Wining Multi-Nation Titles
Scottish Championship Titles
Eastern District Titles.
ALEX ARTHUR M.B.E.
Alex has won the following titles:
Eastern District and Scottish Junior Championships
British Junior Champion
Gaelic Gold and Silver Medallist
Golden gloves Silver medallist
3 x Eastern District Senior Champion
4 x Scottish Senior Champion
2 x World Senor representative and quarter finalist
1998 Commonwealth Games Gold Medallist
4 x International Pro- Champion
British Commonwealth, European, and World Professional Champion.
Tommy joined Leith Victoria in August 1999 until June 2007
he has won:
12 Eastern District Titles
4 Scottish titles
1 British Gold
2 British Silver
2 British Bronze
1 Four Nations Bronze
1 Four Nations Gold.
Stephen boxed for Scotland a total of eighty times, he won:
5 Gold medals
4 Silver medals
13 Bronze medals
Stephen was Scottish Champion 2004, 2005 and 2009.
Stephen attended the Six Nations Tournament in Porto Italy in 2004.
Stephen attended the Nations Cup in 2005 in Austria.
In 2006 the British Four Nations.
In 2006, Stephen boxed in the Box-AM Cup in Spain.
Stephen competed in two Commonwealth Games the 2006 Melbourne Australia where he reached the quarterfinals, and 2010 Deli India where Stephen won a Bronze medal.
Stephen competed in three European Championships, 2006 Bulgaria, and 2008 Liverpool and 2010 Moscow.
Stephen boxed in two World Championships, 2007 Chicago USA where he reached the last 16 and 2009 in Milan Italy he reached the last 16.
Stephen was the Captain for the Great Britain Team verse USA in the USA in 2009, where he won both his bouts.
Stephen has had twelve professional bouts, 11 wins (5 K.O) and 1 loss.
In May 2013, Stephen became Celtic Cruiser weight Champion.
In September 2013, Stephen won the W.B.C International Silver Cruiser weight Championship.
Eugene is the only Scottish Amateur Welterweight Champion to win the Amateur Heavyweight Title in the same Championship series.
An official of Leith Victoria A.A.C. Eugene Henderson, who was at the top of British Boxing Referees throughout the late 1940's to the early 1960’s.
Eugene officiated at the World Middleweight Championship between Sugar Ray Robinson and Randolph Turpin on the July 10th 1951.
Sugar Ray Robinson weighed in at 154lbs and Randolph Turpin weighed in at 158lbs of a round 15 of 15, Eugene was the sole judge of the contest. it was Robinson's first defence of his World Middleweight Contest, it was his seventh and final of a six fight non title European Tour between May 21st and July 1st. Robinson was the 4 to 1 favourite, the purse was - Robinson $84,000 and Turpin $25,500. Eugene raised Turpin's hand at the end of the fight , the score was never announced.
In 1951, Eugene went onto published the book “BOXING” TEACHES A BOY (as can be seen on display in the club museum).
George was a Flyweight and Bantamweight boxer who won District and Scottish titles.
1928/1929 Eastern District Flyweight Titles
1929/1930 Eastern District Bantamweight Titles
George also boxed for Scotland against The Army, Norway, and Ireland
George became a referee he shot to fame when he refereed the Henry Cooper verse Muhammad Al fight in 1966.
Douglas joined Leith Victoria in 1955 at the age of 8 years during which time he had 22 amateur contests winning 18.
Douglas won both Eastern District and Scottish Youth Titles, before retiring from boxing in 1962 due to an injury to his nose.
In February 1963, Douglas became a coach for Leith Victoria A.A.C
In 1974, Douglas passed his judges exam and in 1976, he became a referee , Douglas passed his E.AB.A (European Amateur Boxing Association) exam in February 1979. during this period Douglas refereed and judged throughout Europe and Canada.
In 1992, Douglas passed his A.I.B.A (International Amateur Boxing Association) exam.
In 1998, Douglas refereed the first official female sanctioned International bout between Scotland and Wales in Scotland.
In 1998, Douglas refereed in the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur.
In 2004, Douglas refereed an Olympic qualifier tournament in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Douglas is involved in the Referee and Judges Committee, he has held the position of chairperson of the R&J for many years, and at present is secretary of the Officials Working Group for Scotland and Ring Supervisor at Domestic and International Tournaments.
Since the late, 1980’s Douglas has been the Secretary, Treasurer and Matchmaker for Leith Victoria A.A.C.
James Proctor was Leith Victoria’s first Honorary Secretary; he was an official with the United Scottish Amateur Boxing Association, which has subsequently become known as Boxing Scotland Ltd.
As can be seen from the display, James officiated at numerous tournaments around the world.
1923 – Denmark
1924 – Olympic Games, Paris France
1928 – Olympic Games, Amsterdam
1930 – British Empire Games, Hamilton Canada
1933 – Norway
1934 – British Empire Games, England
1938 – British Empire Games, Sydney
1939 – European Championships, Dublin
1948 – Olympic Games, London
PLEASE CLICK ON INDIVIDUAL PHOTOGRAPH FOR NAMES