Playboy, womaniser and boxing legend: Book tells ‘warts and all’ story of Chatteris hero Eric Boon

IT was 1930 when an 11-year-old boy called Eric Boon was caught fighting with a bully twice his size in the playground of King Edward School, Chatteris.

He was told that if he wanted to fight he should join the boxing club. He did. Eight years later he was welcomed back to the town as Britain’s youngest champion.

Boon was a playboy, a womaniser and one of the most colourful characters ever to step into a ring. His epitaph describes him as “A Legend in his own Lifetime”.

And now boxing biographer Bob Lonkhurst has told the story of the Chatteris Thunderbolt, in what is his sixth book.

Lifelong boxing fan Bob said: “On the material I’ve got this should be the best book I’ve written. I’ve told his story warts and all.

“Eric was massive in Chatteris. The railway companies used to have to put on special trains so that his thousands of fans could get from the Fens to London.

“I would go as far as to say that he is the biggest sporting personality Cambridgeshire has ever had.”

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Bob, who started work on the book more than two years ago, has gathered information from archive newspaper reports from across the world. He has listened to stories from fans who watched Boon fight more than 70 years ago.

The book’s appendix lists all Boon’s traceable bouts, with schoolboy and exhibition fights included alongside his 141 professional contests.

“Researching it was exciting because I was finding things I didn’t know,” said Bob. “Eric was just special. He was knocking out grown men when he was 16.”

Boon was given the Lonsdale belt after he successfully defended his British title against Dave Crowley and, in what was hailed as ‘the fight of the century’, Arthur Danahar.

His hopes of claiming a world title were scuppered by the outbreak of the Second World War. He lost his British title in 1944 and retired soon afterwards.

But Boon’s playboy lifestyle continued to drain his finances and, without a trade to turn to, he was forced to return to the ring.

After heavy defeats in exhibition fights across the world, Boon’s boxing licence was taken away for his own protection.

As Bob writes: “In the end he was taking hidings purely for the money.”

Boon spent his final years living in Soham. He died aged 61 from a heart attack.

“My only regret is that I never saw him fight,” said Bob.

• BOXING legend Dave ‘Boy’ Green became great friends with Boon after meeting him as a teenager at Chatteris Amateur Boxing Club.

Bob, who also wrote Fen Tiger: The Success of Dave ‘Boy’ Green, has dedicated his latest work to Green, who was awarded an MBE this year.

The dedication reads: “For Dave ‘Boy’ Green MBE. A great fighter and special friend whose contribution to charity and the sport of boxing over many years has been immense.”

Green has also written the foreword, in which he describes his determination as a young boxer trying to emulate Boon’s achievements.

He writes: “A book about Eric Boon is long overdue because his success in the boxing ring put our town on the map.

“People adored him and still talk about him today. He had an eventful life and should never be forgotten.”

• CHATTERIS Museum is set to host the book launch of Chatteris Thunderbolt: The Eric Boon Story on August 9, from 2-7.30pm.

The book is available in hardback, priced at �19.95, and paperback, priced at �15.99. To reserve or buy your copy contact author Bob Lonkhurst on 01707 659756.