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Percy Jones - Wales first World Champion boxerPERCY JONES
Porth, Rhondda


World Flyweight Champion

Born: 26th December 1892
Died:  25th December 1922


Wales first World Champion

Appropriately, Rhondda's Percy Jones was born on Boxing Day, 1892, into a typical south Wales mining family. Raised in Porth - just a few miles down the road from Tylorstown, where another great Welsh flyweight grew up - Percy Jones is one of Wales unsung boxing greats. For he was the very first Welshman to hold a version of any world title when he took the World Flyweight championship from Bill Ladbury in 1914.

Percy Jones held the World title for only a short time; and boxed in an era that included probably the greatest flyweight of all time in Jimmy Wilde - who, as stated, lived just up the road in Tylorstown. Tragically, Percy Jones with Jim DriscollPercy died at a young age, he was just 29 years old when he succumbed to Trench fever. It may be any one (or all) of these reasons that Percy's name is rarely mentioned amongst any list of Welsh boxing greats - which is to do the man a great disservice. He was a GREAT Welsh boxer and the country's first World champion. He also beat the best of his day - and there were many, many fine boxers around during Percy's career. A comparison of Percy's record with that of Jimmy Wilde's will show many of the same names - with the Rhondda fighters usually coming out on top.

As with most Welsh fighters of the time, Percy began his interest in boxing by participating in the many boxing booths of the day. As these bouts were largely unrecorded we will never know the exact number of fights that Jones undertook before turning professional in 1911.

Turning professional
Percy Jones learns from the master, 'Peerless' JimThe future world champ's first pro bout was an unexciting 6 round draw against Young Roberts, which took place locally, in Pentre. Indeed, Percy's first ten contests resulted in eight wins and two draws which belied the skilfulness of Jones boxing - after all he was trained by none other than 'Peerless' Jim Driscoll. A fast, powerful fighter with a solid punch, at flyweight, Jones then went on to record an unbeaten record of 41 fights (39 wins - 2 draws) before his successful challenge for the World flyweight title.

British, European & World Champion
To take the title Percy had to travel up to London to face New Cross's, Bill Ladbury. The Englishman had taken the title from the flyweight division's first ever World champion Sid Smith, by way of an 11th round stoppage the previous year. In doing so Ladbury also rightfully claimed the British & European titles. The talented Welshman - without a title to his name - was up against a three belt champion and fighting in his opponents own backyard. In a hard battle over 20 rounds the disadvantages were overcome, as Wales' Percy Jones took a convincing points victory, to become British, European & World Flyweight Champion.

In his first bout, the following month, after becoming Wales first ever World champion, Jones lost a 15 round points decision to Eugene Criqui in a non-title fight. To set the record straight as to who was the better man, a second bout was arranged just six weeks later. This time Percy's European & World titles were at stake. With his precious titles on the line, Jones made no mistake in securing a sound 20 rounds points decision.

Weight difficulties
Increasingly, Percy had been finding it difficult to make the flyweight limit so engaged in catchweight non-title bouts; with mixed fortunes. Indeed, after his win against Criqui, the Percy JonesPorth fighter never again made the flyweight limit. Although Joe Symonds and Tancy Lee were both  victorious against Jones and subsequently claimed his titles, Percy never actually lost his titles in the ring as these bouts took place over the flyweight limit.

Jones moved up to bantamweight but his career was cut short with the outbreak of the Great War.

The Great War, or World War, involved all the world's great powers and the countries distinguished themselves by displaying their nation's flag on large flag poles making it visible to their people and opponents.

His last contest was a fifth round KO of the man he took the World title from, Bill Ladbury, in 1915. In his short, illustrious career Percy Jones had reached the pinnacle of his sport and established himself as one of Wales finest ever boxers.

The Great War
Serving as a Sergeant, in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, Percy was severely wounded in the leg (1916) and also badly affected by poison gas. After undergoing almost 30 operations, his leg was amputated two years later.

In 1922 Percy made a rare appearance, at the Nazareth House Orphanage in Cardiff. His weight was down to 4st 2lbs from the 9st 12lbs he weighed when first joining up. Sadly, he died of Trench fever on Christmas Day that year, just 29 years of age.

Brave both inside of a boxing ring and outside of it, Percy Jones was one of the greats.

NOTE:
The flyweight division came into being when the English boxing authorities created it in 1910, with a weight limit of 108 pounds. American boxing authorities recognised the division shortly afterward.

Even though the weight class came into being in Britain in 1910, the flyweight division did not have its first World champion until 1913 when Bermondsey's Sid Smith became the first ever World flyweight champion beating the French flyweight champ, Eugene Criqui over 20 rounds, in Paris (Criqui later went on to win the World featherweight title). Smith made one successful defence before losing his title in the eleventh round to Bill Ladbury.

With acknowledgement to Glyn Moses for his assistance with facts relating to Percy Jones life & career.  All pics of Percy Jones, supplied by Glyn Moses.
 

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