StringFing On Central TV News!
Broadcast yesterday on the 7pm news, me and Adam Fenn playing ‘Champion of the World‘ – my song tribute to the resounding 15-round victory of Randolph Turpin over the acclaimed American Sugar Ray Robinson, ‘pound-for-pound-greatest-fighter-of-all-time’, on July 10th 1951. Randolph’s awesome success in what was described as ‘The Fight of the Century’, saw him crowned as Britain’s first ever black British World Champion.
Our performance of the song was me and Ad’s contribution to the Black History Month celebrations staged by the North Staffs Afro-Caribbean Association. I did a short interview too, emphasising the debt I feel British musicians owe to the African influence on our indigenous musics.
My 2005 biography, Battling Jack (Mainstream, Edinburgh) was of Randolph’s older brother, ex-pro featherweight, Jackie Turpin.
A line from my Champion of the World song, ‘In Palace Pub And Parlour, The Whole Of Britain Held It’s Breath‘, is sculpted into the bronze plaque at the foot of the life-and-a-quarter size bronze statue of Randolph created by Carl Payne in Warwick Town Square. It is an often quoted line and refers to the moment of silence that fell across the listening nation before Randolph’s victory was announced. So many people had tuned in to the broadcast of the fight that the national grid was nearly at over-load. King George VI in Buckingham Palace left his wireless set and went back to his dinner guests to tell them, ‘Turpin has won!’