Whatever happened to Kirkland Laing?

Share the joy


SO often life seems to be defined, even, one might suspect, moulded by coincidences which sometimes promise to take on a divine quality. Well this one probably doesn’t fall even close to that category. I’m not going to make that claim. Nevertheless it managed to set my heart racing in a way that it hasn’t done for quite some time. When I checked out Facebook this morning I was presented with a memory from four years ago and prompted to share it. This one wasn’t a picture of a bubbling snotty child, or a cheesy pizza I had snapped before consuming eons ago. It was a photograph that I had posted showing a very much younger me posing alongside a boxer named Kirkland Laing. The image is standard fare in boxing nowadays: a sort of prototype selfie in which a mock-glaring Kirkland holds a polished glove to my chin; I’m smiling, of course, trying to hide the fact that I’m a little overawed to be in the close vicinity of somebody who was (and remains) one of my all-time boxing heroes. The picture was taken some time in the pre-camera phone days of 1989 when Kirk was in training for a European title shot in Italy against Nino La Rocca (unsuccessful (of course)). 

If I close my eyes I can
almost smell that memory: I’m in the Kings Cross gym run by the late and
inestimably generous of spirit boxing manager, trainer and treasured cutsman
Dennie Mancini, situated not in Kings Cross but beneath a bric-à-brac shop
selling dildoes, Bros posters and jumping beans in London’s Carnaby Street.
Kirk is sparring with somebody, possibly a young middleweight named Ray Webb
but I could be wrong. He’s swearing at nobody in particular as he throws a
bewildering array of punches that you will find in no textbook.

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