The Champ who liked Shakespeare - by Ron Jackson
Old-timers who saw Reggie Hull box in his prime said he was not only good; at his best he was great.
Boxing in the classic British style, he
had a splendid left, immaculate defence
and dazzling footwork that enabled him to win the SA welterweight and middleweight titles during a short career.
Some experts compared him to the famous Welshman Jim Driscoll, the fighter Hull regarded as his model.
Hull was born in Kimberley on June 15, 1892 and experienced the siege of the town during the Anglo-Boer War.
As an amateur, he won the SA welterweight title in 1912 and 1913 but his career was interrupted by World War 1, in which he served in the Transvaal Scottish.
After the war he continued boxing as an amateur but he turned down a trip to the 1920 Olympic Games after winning the welterweight trials. He turned professional instead of going to Antwerp.
He made his professional debut on October 20, 1920, winning on points over 20 rounds against Johnny Thompson.
In only his second fight, in January 1921, he faced Ronnie Dumar in what was billed as a bout for the SA welterweight title. Dumar was an experienced fighter whose ring career had started before the First World War, but the veteran was no match for Hull who stopped him in the fifth round.
In September that year Hull retained
the title with a points win over Percy
Carson. Then, in April 1922, he outpointed
heavyweight Johnny Squires
over 20 rounds. Squires, who won the
SA heavyweight title four months later
when he knocked out Nick van den
Bergh, had won his previous five
fights inside the distance. He later
took on heavyweights such as George Cook, Tom Heeney, Johnny Risko and Don McCorkindale.
After defeating Squires, Hull drew with Jack “Ginger” Corrigan and knocked out Martin Koenig before meeting Corrigan in a return match in Johannesburg on May 5, 1923.
This time Corrigan defended the SA middleweight title, which he had won in October 1922 when he outpointed Bob Storbeck over 20 rounds.
Hull outboxed Corrigan over 20 rounds to add the middleweight title to his SA welterweight crown. He finished 1923 on a high note when he beat Alf Simmons from England over 20 rounds at the Durban City Hall.
In February 1924, he faced Llwellyn Probert from Methyr Tydfil in Wales, one of the toughest breeding grounds for fighters.
Probert had arrived in South Africa late in 1923 and drew with Wally Baker twice. However, the tall Hull outclassed him over 20 rounds in Johannesburg. In a return match in Durban three months later, Hull again won convincingly on points over 20 rounds.
On December 6, 1924, in the Johannesburg City Hall, Hull retained his SA middleweight title when he drew over 20 rounds against Roy Ingram, who was having his first professional fight.
Ingram, who was born in Belfast,
Ireland, but settled in South Africa,
represented his adopted country at
the 1924 Olympics in Paris as a welterweight.
He defeated J Remy and J
van Dam, but was eliminated in the
third series by Jean Delarge of Belgium
who later won the gold medal.
Ingram also won the SA middleweight
title as a professional.
Against Hull, Ingram did remarkably well in the early rounds and stunned the champion in the eighth.
It was reported that Hull was in trouble and Ingram was about to follow up when his opponent said, “The bell’s gone, Roy.”
Ingram dropped his hands and
turned to his corner. Only then did he
hear the anguished cries from his seconds
and noticed the amused expression
on the face of the referee, Louis
Heilbron. He had been taught a lesson.
Ingram took a
lot of punishment from the 15th round and was fortunate to draw. Hull’s first defeat was also his last. At the age of 33, he hung up his gloves after onetime
European and British lightweight champion Ernie Rice knocked him out in the eighth round in Durban. He finished with a record of 9 wins, 2 inside the distance, a loss and two draws.
Hull began his working life on the Rand Daily Mail and spent 33 years at The Natal Mercury until he retired in 1957 as a newspaper compositor in the days of hot-metal printing.
Although he fought at the time of 20-round bouts and little control he showed hardly any marks from boxing. He was widely read and often quoted from Shakespeare. He also liked to discuss the work of Socrates.
Reginald Ernest Hull died in Durban on July 25, 1966 at the age of 74. He was buried at the Stellawood Cemetery.