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Boxing legend Cooper's Stroud links

By This is Gloucestershire  |  Posted: May 03, 2011

LEGED: Sir Henry Cooper.

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BOXING legend Henry Cooper's death has revealed his early life was briefly spent in Gloucestershire.

Heavyweight champ Sir Henry, 76, was one of twins born in London but as a child he was evacuated, first to the Sussex seaside and later to Chalford, near Stroud, during the Second World War.

Long-time Chalford residents Gilbert, 81, and Brenda, 77, Prosser had followed Sir Henry's career with interest because of his local links.

"We saw in a TV interview once that he didn't like living in the countryside," Mrs Prosser said.

"We can remember listening when he knocked out Muhammad Ali."

Mrs Prosser said they'd known Sir Henry had been evacuated to Stroud when he was a young boy.

"It was along Chalford Bottom, along the High Street somewhere I think it was," Mrs Prosser said.

"Gill was at Chalford Hill School and if he (Sir Henry) went to school it may have been Chalford Christ Church," she said.

Beth Jenkins is both trustee and a committee member of Frith Youth Club in Chalford. She said the senior club had recently revived a boxing night once a month for village teenagers, but she had "never heard" of the Cooper connection.

Sir Henry fought 55 times and was twice honoured as BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

Knighted in 2000, he retired aged 36 in 1971 and died at his son's house in Surrey on Sunday.

Born in Southwark, it was Sir Henry's rise from humble roots which gave him a popularity far beyond his sport's normal boundaries.

A natural left-hander, he started to box as a normal right-hander and, with his twin, turned professional after National Service with the Boxers' Battalion of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps.

It was at Wembley stadium, in June 1963, that he then landed Ali, who was at that time still known as Cassius Clay, on his pants with the punch that made boxing history.

The left hook travelled at 30mph with 60 times for force of gravity, striking the side of the American's jaw.

The world came to know "Enry's 'Ammer" and it felled Ali as never before.

Sir Henry, however, made no great fortune out of boxing and although modestly comfortable still auctioned off his Lonsdale belts after the Lloyd's Syndicate collapse took a huge lump of his savings.

For three years Sir Henry also chaired a team in the BBC's Question of Sport, his knowledge of sport encyclopaedic.

Advertisers homed in and he then became the face of Brut aftershave.

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    Jim, Newent  |  May 03 2011, 4:32PM

    Can't spell Legend on the caption LEGED: Sir Henry Cooper.

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    he_devil, Cheltenham  |  May 03 2011, 1:37PM

    Ali can stop shaking now RIP Sir Henry

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    Mad Dog, Theocsbury  |  May 03 2011, 8:35AM

    Didn't knock Ali out, but he knocked him over. R I P Henry Cooper, great man.

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    Richard, Cheltenham  |  May 03 2011, 7:56AM

    "We can remember listening when he knocked out Muhammad Ali" No he didn't! RiP Henry.