Colin Grainger

Newham honours boxing legend Terry Spinks

Terry Spinks CG pic

Newham Council are to pay tribute to Canning Town boxer and local legend Terry Spinks, the youngest Olympic Gold medallist in British boxing history.

It follows a community campaign in the area to honour his memory with a fitting memorial.

Terry, who won gold in the flyweight division at the Olympic Games in 1956  in Melbourne, Australia, is to be remembered through a new community space in the regeneration area close to his former home.

Mayor of Newham Sir Robin Wales said: “Terry was an East End idol who had a long and successful boxing career, highlighted by his gold medal at the Olympic Games. He was a great ambassador for Canning Town so it is the perfect spot to have a fitting and lasting memorial to him that will inspire future generations of young people into sport.”

Terry Spinks Place will be situated between Rathbone Market in Barking Road and a new development area to the south of the Canning Town flyover. The area is being currently being transformed as part of a £180m regeneration scheme that will deliver more than 50 homes, new shops and a market square.

Terry had a magnificent ability to light up a room and even in his final days was laughing and joking with his nurses.

Terry, the youngest Briton to win an Olympic boxing gold medal, died at his Essex home after a long illness, just 90 days before the Olympics came to his home town.

Often referred to as “West Ham’s Terry Spinks” , he won flyweight gold in Melbourne. He also won the British featherweight crown as a professional, won 41 of his 49 professional fights and was awarded an MBE 11 years ago

The son of a West Ham bookmaker, Terry was the only boxer to be schoolboy, ABA, British and Olympic champion, started boxing at the age of nine with the West Ham Amateur Boxing Club.

He was working as a binman when the call came to join Great Britain’s Olympic team and only had a week to prepare before he went to Australia. He beat Romania’s Mircea Dobrescu in the final.

Spinks turned pro the following year and retired from boxing at the age of 24.

He won the British featherweight title in 1960 beating Bobby Neill and defended the Lonsdale Belt twice before losing to Welsh fighterHoward Winstone in 1961. Terry became a trainer, coaching the South Korean team at the 1972 Olympics in Munich.

A long campaign led to Terry being awarded an MBE.

Despite his failing health, Terry remained a fixture at meetings of the London ex-Boxers’ Association until shortly before his death.

He was true gentleman, and on one of his many visits to the my newspaper’s former office in East Ham, which he loved, remained as humble in his later years as he was when he won his title.

The word legend is trotted out too often these days for sports stars. But in Terry’s case, it was simply a perfect fit.

Terry was raised in Liverpool Road and Morgan Street, Canning Town.  He was laid to rest in one of the biggest funerals seen in Newham for many years.

Cllr Ian Corbett, Newham Council’s executive member for environment, said: “The area beneath Canning Town flyover is being landscaped and turned into a positive, attractive space for use by the community. We will be speaking with residents and local groups about this over the coming months and hope to have a formal opening later this year.”

Terry’s biographer Bob Lonkhurst and cousin Rosemary Elmore recently handed a list of more than 1,000 names to the Mayor supporting the naming of a road or community space after Terry. Bob said: “Terry’s popularity was immense and this will be a fitting memorial to a great ambassador for the area.”


 Picture: Colin Grainger

One Comment

  1. Keith Edwards
    March 4, 2017

    About time….well done Colin for getting Terry the true recognition he deserved…a fitting tribute to a real gentleman…..he devoted most of his time to our local boxing clubs and I had the pleasure of attending some of the presentations he did on behalf of the boxing authorities….He had his up’s and down’s but he remained true to the sport for which boxing was the main beneficiary …he was a great ambassador for the game and remained so until the very end….thank’s Colin keep up the good work……

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This article was written on 22 May 2013, and is filed under boxing, Canning Town, Newham, Newham Council, Olympics & Paralympics, Terry Spinks.

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