It is the story of the greatest British middleweight boxer never to be champion.
Manchester’s Len Johnson was denied the opportunity because of his colour and would continue his fight against discrimination after his retirement from the ring, forming along with his comrades Wilf Charles and Syd Booth The New International Society”, campaigning for many causes at home and abroad and helping to organise the 1945 Pan-African Conference in Manchester.
Now a new production at Salford’s Kings Arms is set to tell the story and expose the depths of racism inherent in British society. It is a story a true working class hero, who fought for all regardless of race or creed.
“I’m here to meet all comers and all comers I must meet” he once said. Born in Clayton in 1902, his father, a former sailor from Sierra Leone who settled in Manchester, he was considered Britain’s best middleweight of the late 1920s and early 1930s but was never allowed to fight for an official title,
for at the time, regulations included the infamous Rule 24, which stated that title contestants “…must have two white parents”.
He would run unsuccessfully six times for a position on Manchester City Council, and was recognised as a community leader in Moss Side, where he frequently intervened in cases involving racial discrimination.
Rule 24 would be lifted in 1947, too late for Len.
Len Johnson Fighter runs from the 14-18th July at the Kings Arm’s Salford