"Lined up on a platform in front of the curtain there's three real-life fighters looking much more used and beaten up than the ones in the pictures."
Boxing booth professionals
Permission Granted by Copyright Owner for Use on Book DrumBoxing booth professionals - Credit: National Fairground Archive

The run-of-the mill professional at a fairground boxing booth may have been rough and ready (especially rough) but the booths have also acted as a cradle for some great British boxing hopes, who fought in national championships. Such fighters as Jem Mace, Kid Furness, Jimmy Wilde and Tommy Farr all fought, exhibited on or ran boxing shows. Even Muhammad Ali in 1977 displayed his skills for charity in front of Ron Taylor's Boxing Emporium. In their heyday there would be three or four main booths in each region travelling the fairground circuit. In Lancashire, the Hughes family, Len Johnson, and Harry Kid Furness became renowned for the quality of their fighters and champions who had started their career on them. In the West Country Jack and Alice Gratton travelled Gratton's boxing show; their son "One Round Gratton" was so-called because he always knocked out his opponents in the first round. Taylor's Boxing Emporium travelled Wales and the rest of the United Kingdom for well over a century, while the Hickman family were dominant in the Midlands.