Eugene Corri was probably the most distinctive and essential figures in early Twentieth-century British boxing, however endured a dramatic fall from grace outdoors the ring
You’ll see Eugene Corri in footage shot on the Nationwide Sporting Membership (NSC) in London’s Covent Backyard, the HQ of British boxing from 1891 to the Nineteen Twenties, the place the well-heeled dinner-suited crowds noticed an eerie silence through the combating as cigar smoke billowed across the small ornate corridor. He’s often seated ringside, appraising the bout from outdoors the ropes, as was the norm then for Britain’s referees.
Along with his stocky body, his ever-smiling countenance, sprouting moustache and flamboyant gown sense – his Corinthian overcoat and top-hat of the fashion worn by the Bucks of the Regency interval – Corri was a larger-than-life character and a key determine in early Twentieth-century British boxing. An amiable, happy-go-lucky man and an interesting raconteur, “Genial Gene”, as he was recognized, had a large circle of buddies starting from friends to pugilists. He adored cigars and was hardly ever seen with out one; his consumption was mentioned to exceed even that of famous cigar man Lord Lonsdale. However beneath the colourful persona was a stern method that made him one of many strictest refs within the sport.
As a younger man, Gene labored in Throgmorton Avenue, within the Metropolis of London, as a stockbroker’s clerk and later turned a companion within the agency. He acquired concerned with boxing within the Eighteen Eighties when he was in his 20s. After making an attempt his hand on the noble artwork, he moved into refereeing. When the NSC opened in 1891, he was certainly one of its first members and have become certainly one of its common referees.
Throughout his lengthy profession, Corri dealt with fights involving such ring legends as Georges Carpentier, Tommy Burns, Sam Langford, Sam McVea, Jimmy Wilde, Jim Driscoll, Ted Child Lewis, Freddie Welsh, Willie Ritchie, Pedlar Palmer, George Dixon and Mickey Walker. Unsurprisingly, he had a wealth of tales from his time in boxing and shared them in 4 fascinating books.
When he refereed Tommy Burns’s world heavyweight title struggle with Gunner Moir on the NSC, for instance, the distrustful Burns insisted that his purse cash be positioned within the arms of the referee. NSC supervisor “Peggy” Bettinson duly agreed and handed Corri an enormous wad of notes, which he slipped into the within pocket of his dinner jacket.
As the competition progressed, Gene was compelled to enter the ring to take management of the motion. Feeling the warmth, he absentmindedly threw his jacket over a ringside chair. Burns received the struggle in 10 rounds, at which level Corri remembered the wad of notes and rushed to get well his coat. To his immense reduction, the money was nonetheless there!
As a companion in a stockbrokers’ enterprise, Corri had been a rich man, counting multimillionaire diamond magnates Barney Barnato, Jack and Solly Joel and Sir Abe Bailey amongst his purchasers and intimate buddies. However on the outbreak of World Warfare One he closed the enterprise and entered an ill-fated bookmaking partnership. He was bankrupted in 1921.
Now in his 60s, his standing within the boxing world was undiminished, however he would wrestle financially for the remainder of his days. On assembly Corri in Fleet Avenue within the Nineteen Twenties, an outdated journalist good friend was shocked by his “shabby garments and common down at heel look”, later writing: “After I contrasted his deplorable garments with these he wore when final I had seen him, I simply couldn’t consider my eyes.”
However Corri remained cheerful and stoic regardless of his sick fortune. He suffered ailing well being in his last years, however managed to publish his final memoir, Fifty Years within the Ring, in 1933. When he died at his dwelling in Southend that December, the sporting and nationwide press had been stuffed with reward. A headline splashed throughout the again web page of the Each day Mirror encapsulated his place in sport. It learn: “Eugene Corri, King of Boxing Referees.”