September 21 2014 Latest news:

Local Weather

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 18°C

min temp: 7°C

Five-day forecast

An often overlooked champion boxer who campaigned against the colour bar that once stopped black boxers competing for titles is finally to be honoured in his home borough – thanks to the help of the Gazette.

To send a link to this page to a friend, you must be logged in.

Len Harvey, a great boxer who won 111 of his 133 fights during the first half of the 20th century, is finally to get much-deserved recognition in the form of a green plaque somewhere in Islington – the borough where he lived for 40 years until his death.

Harvey, whose gripping life story was recently featured in the Gazette, and who has been adopted as “one of their own” by Islington Boxing Club, is to be honoured after topping the Islington People’s Plaque poll – gaining 37 per cent of the 4,700 votes submitted.

Harvey was born in Cornwall in 1907 and started fighting at the age of 12, moving to London shortly afterwards.

He went on to become the British champion in three categories – middleweight, light-heavy and heavyweight.

During his career, he ignored the colour bar by insisting on fighting two black fighters, Len Johnson and Larry Gains. Gains, a Canadian fighter, later wrote about Harvey having given him a chance in England.

Harvey finally retired in 1942, after losing a ferocious fight with the famous Freddie Mills.

Harvey then became the licensee of the Star and Garter pub – now the Steam Passage Tavern – in Upper Street, Islington.

But Harvey’s name has been all but forgotten – something Len Harvey fan and ex-boxer Glyn Roberts has been campaigning to have remedied.

Mr Roberts, 45, a lifeguard who lives in Hilldrop Crescent, Holloway – near Harvey’s former Penn Road home – is thrilled that Harvey is now to receive a plaque.

Mr Roberts, who has spent thousands collecting Len Harvey memorabilia, said: “I was absolutely jumping for joy. It just shows that for Islington people, Len Harvey is one of their champions.”

Two other local heroes are also to receive green plaques – social campaigner Betty Knight and pioneering pathologist Dr Gordon Signy.

Ms Knight fought for better living conditions in council homes, particularly on the Spa Green Estate off St John Street, Finsbury, until her death in 2010.

Dr Signy, who lived in Alwyne Road, Islington, was instrumental in developing the investigation and treatment of blood diseases before his death in 1972. He also founded the Journal of Clinical Pathology and captained the British fencing team.

The Islington People’s Plaques scheme was launched by Islington Council in 2010 and has already honoured people such as Mary Wollstonecraft, the 18th-century advocate of women’s rights, and the comedian Kenneth Williams.

Share this article

0 comments

   Local advertisers

More News articles

Click here to read the Digital Edition of the Islington Gazette on screen
Use our Wedding site to help you plan your big day!
At WeddingSite we know how much you have to organise for your wedding day, that's why we have designed a set of FREE, simple-to-use tools to make the planning process easy & hassle-free. FIND OUT MORE
Find a date using our online dating and friend finder
You can meet new friends, find romance or simply meet up online with people sharing similar interests and hobbies. FIND OUT MORE
Find a local business using our online directory search
Need a plumber? Or a florist? Or anything else? Search our business directory to find Islington businesses in just a few seconds. FIND OUT MORE
Family notices from the Islington Gazette, with readers' tributes
In memoriam, birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, best wishes & special days. FIND OUT MORE

Celebrity / Showbiz See all

Drake has cancelled his Wireless London performance (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for ESPN)

Fans devastated after Drake cancels Wireless London festival

Rapper Drake has pulled out of his headline appearances at this weekend’s Wireless Festival in London, leaving fans devastated.

Read full story »