R.I.P. Our ‘Enry

Henry Cooper v Cassius Clay - Wembley 1963

Sir Henry Cooper OBE.

Sad news that was announce on Sunday that the great Henry Cooper had died.

A British sporting legend and not just because he didn’t win the World Heavy Weight title, he wasn’t a “loveable loser” so beloved of the British public like say Frank Bruno – though of course he did get a title eventually – no like Sir Stirling Moss he was someone who transcended both his sport and the era of his participation.

Sir Henry’s last fight – against Joe Bugner, when he was robbed by a ¼ point – was before I was born but I still knew who he was and what he’d done. From his eleven year reign as British Heavy Weight Champion – back in the days when that meant something, when everyone, not just boxing fans, not only new the World Champ but the British one as well, where as now I’d be struggling beyond saying haven’t the Klitschko’s got a belt each and Haye and that’s it. As for British in a world with Fraudley Audrey and Danny Williams not only do I not have a clue but I couldn’t care either.

And of course I knew he was the first to put the then Cassius Clay on his arse…

One of the great what ifs. What if ‘Enry’s ‘Ammer had come sooner in the round, beating the bell? What if Clay hadn’t landed in the ropes as he went down and his head had hit the canvas with a bang instead? And what if that glove hadn’t been cut, giving Clay that extra time to recover.

But then the biggest what if, what if ‘Enry’s eyes didn’t cut up so easily.

Of course the Brut 33 adverts with Barry Sheen and Keggy Keegle helped… splash it all over.

Just ‘Enry’s luck that Barry buggerlugs decided to personally fly to Pakistan, single-handedly storm a compound and kill Osama, without the aid of two TelePrompTers, which has rather overshadowed the sad news of his passing. But through all the obituaries and tributes you’ve heard and will hear – including from Muhammad Ali – the one word they all contain is “gentleman”. And that’s how he’ll always be remembered.

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