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After 66 years of service, John is heading for pastures new
ONE of Worcester's most prominent boxing personalities is preparing to leave the club where he has spent 66 years.
John Curnock, president of Worcester City Amateur Boxing Club, has been part of the group's fabric ever since he first donned a pair of gloves as a 12-year-old.
Now, aged 78, himself and wife Janet are moving to Wales to be nearer their daughter Sally and two grandchildren.
Although Curnock insists he will still be a regular visitor to club shows, it marks the end of an era for his day-to-day involvement in activities.
He is also calling time on his duties as an Amateur Boxing Association judge, something he has done for 53 years.
"I am having to finish now because I'm moving down to Llanelli," he said. "My daughter lives down there and the grandchildren want grandad to come and live down there.
"I had mixed feelings at first but my wife's had to endure my boxing throughout our married lifetime."
He continued: "I don't think anything can take the place of the Worcester club, it's been my life. I've got so many ideas of coming up here as regularly as possible, I just want to think that nothing comes to an end.
"I'm not ending my ties. I don't know whether I will be president or not but I'm definitely going to see that I get to all the home shows."
Curnock certainly has plenty of memories to cherish as he begins the latest chapter of his eventful life.
A national light welterweight champion at the age of 16 when he won the British Air Training Corps title at the Royal Albert Hall, he went on to be one of the sport's leading officials in the Midlands.
He has also seen Worcester produce talents such as Alan Edwards, who won the ABA light middleweight championship in 1967, and Wayne Clayton, who was British junior champion in 1986.
He has held just about every committee position at Worcester, including secretary and chairman, and been president of both the Midland Amateur Boxing Association and West Mercia Division of the ABA.
Yet, it all started with as a casual encounter just months after the club had opened its first gym in the jockey's weighing room at Pitchcroft.
"I had a pal who doesn't live far from me now and he was involved in the club and the people who had just opened it so I went down," Curnock said.
"Boxing would have been the last thing I would have ever thought of going in to but whatever I did do I persevered with.
"My choir master at Claines Church said 'whatever are you taking up boxing for John?' and I said 'it's just another thing I'm doing in my spare time'. I used to have to rush from training on a Friday evening up to choir practice.
"It just clicked with me somehow. I didn't hit the top at it but I had some near misses. I won the British ATC title at 16 and with that I boxed at Liverpool, Glasgow, Belfast and then at the Royal Albert Hall where I won. I boxed in the Gold Star tournament and I lost on points in the final.
"When I came out of the RAF, I boxed against Wally Swift, who became British and Empire champion soon after, and lost on points."
One his many roles at the club, which has been based in Vincent Road since 1987, was organising bouts for the Worcester public to enjoy.
Curnock said: "I used to get in touch with clubs all over the country to bring boys down to Worcester and we've had a lot of good lads box here.
"We had shows at the Guildhall, Shirehall and the Co-op. Although it was fairly small the atmosphere was wonderful in there. At one time the Worcester club were running six shows a season."
He continued: "I've got so much interest in it now, I will miss it but when you've been involved so much to cut back on it does hurt. You just get to like the sport that you're in. It will always be with me.
"I can't get here for judging but there's a lot of good chaps coming into the sport now to carry on and we've got good coaches in this club and everything is going fairly well at the present moment."
CAPTIONS: John Curnock meets Princess Anne after being honoured for 43 years service to sport in 1991.
He is also pictured with former WBC super middleweight champion Richie Woodhall, who was guest at a club show in the late 1980s.
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