Ken Buchanan Adopted Legend

Ken turned professional in September 1965 with Welsh manager Eddie Thomas who was based in Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales. Eddie was the manager and trainer of the late great Howard Winstone M.B.E., former Featherweight Champion of the World.
Ken chose to go and train under Eddie because of his great admiration of the style and technique of the great ‘Welsh Wizard’ despite being approached by many of the top British trainers and promoters at the time, people thought Bobby Neil was the favourite to sign Ken, but he turned his sights on Eddie Thomas and Merthyr Tydfil.

Merthyr Tydfil was the place where he was to spend many happy years of his training days with the ‘Jones Family’, Brynley, Myfanwy, and their son Philip, who was to become a life-long friend of Ken’s, these were the people who was later to become, in Ken’s own words “His Welsh family”.

On arrival in Merthyr Tydfil, Ken had great expectations of training and sparring with the great Welsh Wizard himself, who was then British & European Featherweight Champion, and later to become Featherweight Champion of the World.

Ken trained alongside many of Eddie’s fighters in the run down gym at Penydarren high street. A gym so different from any other that Ken had ever experienced before, no showers, no toilet facilities, broken windows, and no heating throughout the building in winter. But that’s the place where Ken wanted to be, he wanted to be just like is idol – Howard Winstone, who was later to become one of Ken’s close friends.

The ‘sweat box’ was the local name for the Penydarren gym, which was a vibrant and busy place during those crazy days in the mid 60’s.

There were many local boxers who trained at the gym in those early days alongside Ken, boxers such as; Johnny Gamble, Gerald Jones, Billy Thomas, Tony William, Carl Gizzi, Roy John and of course Eddie Avoth, who sometimes brought along his two brothers Dennis and Leslie. Howard was of course the main character and practical joker during those great days in the 60’s, his wickedness and practical jokes became victim to many.

 

Eddie Avoth
Another great fighter during the same era as Ken, was Eddie Avoth who was a supremely fit and clever boxer who had fantastic boxing skills inside the ring and became British and Commonwealth Light-heavyweight Champion.

But Eddie had suffered Rheumatic fever during his early boxing career, and on reflection had a significant effect on him as a boxer later on in his fighting career. If we could turn the clocks back and his medical condition had never existed in those early days, then he would undoubtedly have gone on to become Champion of the World.

Fights 53 Won 44 Lost 9 draw 0

Billy Thomas

Billy Thomas; he had a good amateur boxing record, and turned professional with Mac Williams in Cardiff in 1963.

Billy Thomas was chief sparring partner to Howard Winstone during the latter years of Howard’s career.

Fights 26, Won 16, Lost 7 Draw 3

The ‘house of pain’ (on your left) Penydarren Gym

Home of Champions, top house Broad Street.

Another great prospect arrived in Merthyr Tydfil from Hull soon afterwards; his name Roger Tighe, a former Commonwealth Games Gold Medallist. Roger boxed as a light-heavyweight, but unfortunately always struggled to make the weight. Roger soon set-up home also in Broad Street, where over the years he brought fun and laughter to the household with his very dry sense of humour.

Commonwealth Gold Medallist Roger Tighe.

During the 1960’s and early 70’s the Eddie Thomas gym had a tremendous reputation in the fight game, not only just in Wales, but all over the country, and many fighters would travel down to the famous Penydarren gym from all parts of the United Kingdom to learn the trade from Eddie Thomas who was one of the most highly rated and respected manager/trainer in the business at that time.

Howard and Ken in Llanarth training camp 1967.

For those few who did witness Howard Winstone and Ken Buchanan spar in the Penydarren gym, one can only say it was an honour and a privilege. Believe it or not, Howard and Ken didn’t spar together that many times, I understand it was only three or four times so Ken says, and then for no more than three rounds at a time, but seeing them both spar together, was nothing short of pure magical genius to watch, two great boxers in their own right, both great artists of the ring, and both handing out the utmost respect for one another whilst both fully aware of each other’s craftsmanship, capabilities and respect inside the ring, one champion going up the ladder, while another great champion had already been to the very top of his ladder.

Ken shows off his newly won Lonsdale belt to his
“Welsh Mum” Myfanwy Jones 1968.

Ken showing his Lonsdale belt to lifelong
friend Phil 1968.

Phil’s daughter takes a shine to my belt 1968.



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