James Glen, Co-author of the book “Gilroy Was Here – The Life and Career of Scottish Boxing Legend Bert Gilroy”, is actively seeking film or documentary interests for this fighters story.
Bert Gilroy's story is the greatest story in British Sporting History - for most "FEARED,CHEATED and EXPLOITED fighter"...his career is the classic case of man against the machine-the Political & Corrupt powers of the sport of Boxing.
Gilroy becomes the automatic hero with the opposing boxing powerhouses. The bad-guys. This story, like the Raging Bull is full of that period drama, the 1930s & 40s, Boxings greatest period.
Hard & Astute times (poverty),
The War years,
Injustice and ethnic racism,
The famous British Boxing Booths
and the 1st Boxing film 'ever' to be done on a British boxing great - a 'major' sell both sides of the Atlantic!
Bert Gilroy is now a World Hall of Fame boxing great – Inducted on Oct.14th, 2006.
Bert Gilroy the Scots-Italian middleweight, real name Antonio Rea.
Gilroy was a dual Scottish Champion, middle & light-heavyweight 1938-50.
He was the UK's leading contender No. 1, 1939-48, and official challenger to both Jock McAvoy, British middleweight king, 1933-44,
and to British & Empire's World light-heavyweight Champion, Freddie Mills, 1942-50.
Mills later unified the World title in his second attempt against American Gus Lesnevich in 1948!
McAvoy the fearsome British middleweight was himself affected by boxing politics and denied a World middleweight title fight,
yet 'allowed' to fight all-time great John Henry Lewis for the World's light-heavyweight title in 1936. McAvoy obliged and he took Lewis the distance over 15 rds. Gilroy chased McAvoy from 1938-45 with the crucial years being 1939-44. In 1940 Bert won an eliminator against the well noted and world ranked Arthur 'Ginger' Sadd for McAvoy's crown. Fate proved to be a curse rather than a blessing at this point as Bert suffered a serious injury while on Military manoeuvres and broke his pelvis bone. The bout was naturally cancelled and Bert lost a year out of his boxing career. Bert returned in 1941 went straight back to No. 1 and his promised title match was still in the wait, and in fact 'never' took place at all, even though McAvoy hadn't defended his title since he was down to fight Gilroy that night back in June 1940. Indeed McAvoy held that same title 'uncontested' for an additional 4 years and retired in 1945 without making another defence of his British middleweight title!
The same can be said for Bert's status against Freddie Mills, Mills held his British & Empire's World light-heavyweight title for 8 long years without ever defending it!
Bert was official challenger to the title and Mills' No. 1 contender from 1945-48 yet once again no title fight for Gilroy. Bert & Freddie did meet once in 1944 in a non-title bout and with Gilroy ahead on points, Mills gets the verdict in a not very well received 8th round stoppage owing to a cut eye that Bert had received in the opening rounds. Why were the two never brought together again, and it is even more of a legitimate question to inquire as to how Freddie could hold a title 8 long years without 'ever' making one title defence, not one!
Gilroy competed with excellence and consistency from mid-1937 when he came into his own, and in fact had only tasted defeat 13 times out of his next 85 contests, when he retired in 1950, including a 41 fight stretch without defeat, mid-1937 to early 1943. Of the losses, 7 of them met with 'documented' questionable decisions or circumstances surrounding the fights and a handful of them to bigger men, Heavyweights - Bruce Woodcock, Ken Shaw and Stephane Olek fighters Bert shouldn't have really been fighting in the first place.
All in Bert Gilroy took part in 7 contests for Scottish titles, one 'eliminator' for the Scottish middleweight title, two more for the title itself, which he won, two battles for the Scottish light-heavyweight title, winning that title too and likewise two attempts at the Scottish heavyweight title against Champion, Ken Shaw, losing both, the first questioned. Bert as mentioned had one 'eliminator' for the British middleweight title, and though No. 1 for the better part of 10 years, was denied a shot at both McAvoy's middleweight title and Freddie Mills' light-heavyweight title, Why?
Gilroy fought all the top Scots, Irish and British contenders and fighters, including South African and French ring greats, among them, names like Johnny Clements, Tommy Smith, Tommy Henderson, Ben Valentine, Arthur 'Ginger' Sadd, Jock McCusker, Glen Moody, Jack Hyams, Pat O'Connor, Freddie Mills, Bruce Woodcock, Ken Shaw, Marcel Cerdan, Johnny DeVilliers, Stephane Olek, Don Cockell and his last fight in 1950 against a giant of a man Irish heavyweight Gerry McDermot for a career that spanned 18 years and 119 fights.
Bert was 'hailed' from ring legends such as Jimmy Wilde and Elky Clark to top reporters and writers, Euan Wellwood, Malcom Turner, the famous Norman Hurst and tragic Henry Rose, George Biddles and Barrington Dalby to top flight American boxing manager and promoter Charley Rose and one of Britain's leading referee's at the time Eugene Henderson all forecasting Bert Gilroy to be the next British middleweight Champion and/or a World Champion.
Bert Gilroy's final score was 119 fights, 86 (44) wins, 25 loses 8 draws, he was Scotland's longest reigning Champion, Scotland's greatest 'Bigman' and the greatest Scottish fighter never to 'hold' a British or World title. He may well have been Britain's greatest middleweight.
In Bert's own words "they Shut me Out"...the Thistle in the Rose, Scotland's Bert Gilroy!
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