Joe Beckett was born in Wickham in 1892. He learned his trade as a boxer on the fairgrounds before turning professional in 1912. He became British heavyweight champion in 1914, and in January 1919 beat Harry Reeve to become British lightweight champion. In February 1919 he fought one of his best remembered matches against Bombardier Billy Wells, winning in the fifth round. His last fight was in October 1923 when he lost in the first round for a second time to Frenchman Georges Carpentier. He retired to his home in Winchester Road, moving later to 22 Shanklin Road (image 3). He died in 1965. Beckett won 31 of 39 title fights, but his two bad defeats to Carpentier earned him the unjust nickname ‘The Horizontal Heavyweight’.
Southampton People, by John Edgar Mann, p14-15. (HS/t)
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