WHAT do Gene Tunney, Al Brown, Jimmy McLarnin, Jack Britton, Mike McTigue, Ted Child Lewis and Johnny Dundee have in widespread? Apparent reply: they had been all world champions of the pre-war period. Much less apparent reply: they had been all educated, at one time or different, by Welshman Dai Dollings.
Dollings, who educated champion runners, swimmers, wrestlers and Indian-club swingers earlier than specializing in boxers, is likely one of the biggest trainers Britain ever produced. His affect might be stated to increase, obliquely at the very least, to the trendy period and Roberto Duran, but right this moment Dollings is nearly unknown.
Hailing from Swansea, in his youth Dai had been a fighter of some reputation and was additionally a aggressive strolling champion. As a boxing coach his devotion went past coaching and nook work. He would additionally cook dinner for his males and was an knowledgeable masseur. His first large successes as a coach got here with Tom Thomas (winner of the primary middleweight Lonsdale Belt), British featherweight champ Spike Robson, welterweight titlist Younger Joseph, bantamweight ruler Digger Stanley and heavyweight king Gunner Moir. In 1909, Moir stated of Dollings: “I don’t assume I may discover a higher coach than Dai, and he is aware of me completely.”
This understanding a fighter completely was one of many hallmarks of Dai’s success. In February 1911, he educated Matt Wells for his upset victory over Freddie Welsh for British and European light-weight honours. Wells and Dollings left for America quickly after, and Dai guided his cost by means of a wonderful stateside marketing campaign that included a win over reigning world featherweight champ Abe Attell.
However was Dollings merely basking in Wells’ mirrored glory? Apparently not. In a letter to Boxing Information despatched through the US journey, Wells declared: “There’s one factor Wales must be happy with, and that’s that they personal one of the best coach on this planet in Dai Dollings. It was his doing that enabled me to defeat Freddie Welsh… Dai and I are like brothers. We’re by no means out of each other’s sight… The American individuals assume that Dai is one of the best coach over right here.”
After coming back from the US, Dai continued to coach fighters in Britain, often on the Black Bull pub-cum-gym in Whetstone. In 1913, he ready Ted Kid Lewis for his British featherweight title win over Alec Lambert.
However Dai determined to maneuver to America. He settled in New York to change into resident coach at Grupp’s gymnasium on 116th Road and Eighth Avenue, then town’s main gymnasium. There he discovered a vibrant younger man who needed to be taught from probably the greatest. That younger man was future Corridor of Fame coach Ray Arcel, who absorbed information from Dollings with ardent zeal.
Dai impressed on Arcel the significance of learning the nuances of various types of fighter. He additionally taught Ray to deal with every boxer he educated as a person. “Every younger man that got here to me, I made an entire examine of his private habits, his temperament,” Arcel later stated. “No two persons are alike. What you inform one fella, you couldn’t assist the opposite fella with.”
From New York, Dai educated the likes of Invoice Brennan, Jack Britton, Dave Shade, Mike McTigue, Jimmy McLarnin, Johnny Dundee, Harry Wills and, in keeping with some sources, Gene Tunney. When the sensible bantamweight Al Brown arrived within the metropolis from Panama, in keeping with Brown’s biographer Jose Corpas, Dollings remoulded his type, transferring Al away from a right-hand blissful strategy to 1 constructed across the excellent left jab and balletic footwork that grew to become his private model.
However maybe Dai’s biggest legacy got here in passing his philosophies and strategies on to Arcel. Ray used these strategies, or a variation of them, to steer successive generations of boxers to glory as a coach and conerman. Jack Child Berg, Billy Soose, Ezzard Charles, Tony Zale, Roberto Duran and Larry Holmes all benefited at the very least to some extent from Dollings’ strategies as adopted and tailored by Arcel.