Harry William MALLIN

Great Britain
TeamGreat Britain
Olympic Medals
Games Participations2
First Olympic GamesAntwerp 1920
Year of Birth1892


Henry Mallin, a 28-year-old London policeman and the ABA champion of 1919 and 1920, opened his bid for the Olympic middleweight title at Antwerp in 1920 by out-pointing Lt. Joseph Cranston of the US Army. Cranston, who later became a general, told Mallin that he could only be consoled for losing his first fight, after a 5,000 mile journey, if he knew that he had been beaten by the Olympic champion. In due course, Mallin provided that consolation. In his second bout, Harry Mallin defeated another American, Sam Lagonia, who was disqualified for persistent holding. As the 1920 US Official Report put it, the Americans were “seething with volcanic indignation” at the decision and threatened to withdraw from the Games. The situation eventually calmed and, after a straightforward win over the Canadian, Moe Herscovitch, in the semi-finals, Mallin met another Canadian, Art Prud’homme, in the final. The tough French-Canadian soldier, who had won each of his three previous bouts by a KO, gave Mallin a hard time throughout but the Englishman did enough to get the verdict. One of the people who helped chair him from the ring was his first round victim Joseph Cranston.

In 1924 Mallin began the defense of his Olympic crown at the Velodrome d’Hiver in Paris. After two easy wins he met the home-town hero, Roger Brousse, in the quarter-finals with dramatic results. The bout went the full three rounds and Brousse appeared to have won comfortably, but before the decision was announced Mallin told officials that he had been bitten on the arms and chest, pointing to his opponent’s teeth marks in support of his complaint. Neither Mallin, nor the British team managers, protested officially but when the judges awarded the fight to Brousse the Swedish officials lodged an official complaint on Mallin’s behalf. The jury d’appel met until the early hours of the morning and heard a great deal of evidence, including that of an American who said that he too had been bitten by Brousse in an earlier fight. No decision was reached at the first meeting and the Jury re-convened the following evening, the boxing program being held up until their deliberations had been completed. Finally it was announced that Brousse had been disqualified. Pandemonium followed. Fights started around the hall and the disqualified Brousse was carried shoulder-high around the ring by his supporters. Meanwhile, Mallin and his opponent in the semi-final, Joseph Beecken of Belgium, sat in the ring and watched the commotion. Eventually the bout started, Mallin out-pointed the Belgian and went on to meet his teammate, John Elliott, in the final the following night.

Reports of the final are somewhat limited as, at the sight of Mallin climbing into the ring, the French crowd renewed their demonstrations and neither the press nor the spectators enjoyed an uninterrupted view of the bout. It was, apparently, a close fight with the verdict going to Mallin, who became the first man ever to successfully defend an Olympic boxing title. This was the last fight of Mallins’ distinguished ring career during which he won two Olympic gold medals and five ABA titles and remained undefeated in more than 300 bouts. He was manager of the British Olympic boxing team at Berlin in 1936 and the following year he gave the first ever television sports commentary in Britain when two amateur contests were transmitted from the Concern Hall, Alexandra Palace. He was again manager of the Olympic boxing team in 1952 and in his later years held high office in the ABA. His brother, Fred Mallin, was also a five-time British middleweight champion.

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