'Playboy' Brummie boxer Johnny Prescott dies at 74
Famed for his film-star looks, knock-out punches and party lifestyle, heavyweight was a legend of the 1960s and 1970s who challenged Henry Cooper.
Johnny Prescott, the Brummie orphan whose film-star looks, knock-out punches and party lifestyle focused the publicity spotlight on the sport in Birmingham in the 1960s and 1970s, has passed away after a long illness.
He was 74 and in his prime was nicknamed “Playboy”. As a heavyweight boxer he won 34 bouts (13kos), lost 11 and drew four for a total of 49. He won the Midlands title and challenged for the British and Commonwealth crowns against Henry Cooper.
He died on Saturday night at Good Hope hospital.
Prescott was famously photographed with Miss World, Ann Sidney, on one arm and Miss Great Britain, Dianne Westbury, on the other, taken after a win against Brian London in Blackpool.
The young boxer had his first fight in 1961, outpointing Derek Kilburn at Wolverhampton.
Then came an incredible nine fights all won by knock-out punches, including winning the Midlands title for the first time against Tony Smith. In all Prescott won his first 23 fights. His first taste of defeat was against Jim Cooper (Henry’s twin brother) in 1963 at the Embassy.
Two years later Prescott, who was brought up by his Nan in William Henry Street, Nechells, had his finest hour fighting for the British and Commonwealth titles against Henry Cooper at Birmingham City’s St Andrew’s ground where he was devoted Bluenose.
The fight was postponed for a day because of bad weather and on the night Prescott was stopped in the tenth but his performance drew huge praise afterwards, especially from champion Cooper.
In January 1970 Prescott was outpointed by Joe Bugner at the Royal Albert Hall and decided to call it a day. But being out of the spotlight was not for him and he went into the bookmaker business with Bill Cutler, an enterprise which was followed by him teaming up with John Sweeney in the world of boxing promotions. When that ended he went into the steel business.
Billy Sutton said last night: “JP was a legend in his own time. He played hard and worked hard, enjoying life to the full. But no matter what he achieved he never forgot his roots. He gave me a lifetime of friendship, as he did for many others, which I will always cherish.”
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