Ring Champ Shells Part of Local History; Boxing Fan's Collection Put Up for Sale

Article excerpt

Byline: Tony Henderson

EGG boxers are one of the highlights of a Tyneside fight fan's lifelong collection devoted to the sport which are set to be auctioned today.

The late Ronnie Smith, who lived in Blaydon in Gateshead, built up an archive of more than 150 pictures dating from the 1930s onwards of boxers, mostly from the North East, with many of them signed.

He also compiled a hand-written ledger of the fight histories of North East boxers, starting in the 1920s.

But the centrepiece of the collection is a set of 15 eggs painted with the images and personal and fight details of heavyweight champions.

They were created by miner Jack Craig, also from Blaydon, who took up the art of egg painting after an injury at work meant he could not return to the pit.

The collection, which will be sold today by Newcastle auctioneers Anderson & Garland, includes fight programmes and vintage ringside magazines.

There are also souvenir programmes from tribute events to top North East boxers such as Billy Charlton from Gateshead and Newcastle's Benny Sharkey. Ronnie Smith worked at the former Stella Power Station at Blaydon and was the grandson of professional boxer Billy Smith.

Mr Smith's son, also called Ronnie, said that his father commissioned the painted eggs from Jack Craig.

"It is a lifetime's collection from the days when local boxing was big and virtually every town in the North East had its own boxing venue," he said. …