From the opening of the Falkirk Ice Rink it had always been intended to include boxing amongst the summer events to be staged there. It does not appear to have happened in 1939 and undoubtedly there would have been other priorities for the new venue to sort out.
The Falkirk Ice Rink did see boxing matches take place during the Second World War because boxing was one of the physical activities promoted by the Sea Cadets. This organisation was given the use of the ice rink and from September 1942 it arranged an annual naval display there which included displays of signalling, gymnastics, gun drill, ship manoeuvres, boxing, physical training, rope work and so on.
It was only after the war that boxing was taken up as a commercial event. In 1946 the boxing promoter Russell Moreland spread his activities to Falkirk Ice Rink on 7 August when a welterweight competition took place between the Scottish champion Ginger Willie Stewart of Hamilton and Billy Stevens of Tillicoultry over ten rounds – the former winning on points. Also on the bill was a lightweight contest between the Scottish champion Johnny Harry McManus and Johnny Russel of London. This fight had to be stopped in the fourth round after the Englishman’s face had been cut. Bill Jackson, a coloured boxer, defeated Bill Kelly on points over ten rounds. The presence of Jackie Paterson, the world fly-weight champion, in the audience, was seen as a sign of the elevated status of the Falkirk venue.
Further high status matches followed but the venue is best remembered as the home ground for Jim Kenny of Polmont. He started his professional career in 1946 but towards the end of that year injured both hands at the Falkirk Ice Rink. After a lay-off of several months he again appeared on the bill there in February 1948 when he won on points over Jim McCann, the Northern Ireland featherweight champion, in an eight rounder. That gave Kenny 19 wins to his credit. The following year he won the Scottish featherweight title and delighted fans by holding his next fixture at the Falkirk Ice Rink on 14 August 1949. On that occasion he made short work of Jack Hughes, the Welsh feather-weight champion. He won another narrow victory there in March 1950, getting a points verdict over Stan Gossip of Hull after a gruelling ten rounds. Kenny retired in 1953 and took to training promising talent at the Grangemouth Amateur Boxing Club. He had taken part in 51 professional contests.
G.B. Bailey, 2022
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