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Learning Curves - Part Twelve
The Leamington Licker
By Lakhvinder S. Madahar
The weekend following my son’s (Pindi ‘The Warrior’ Madahar) Muay Thai fight on a ‘Yokkao promotion’ earlier this year, we attended a ‘Cancer Research’ event for the Ultra White Collar Boxing.
Under the connexion of Ultra White Collar Boxing, we trained beginners for eight weeks at our (Total Martial Arts Academy – Coventry) in the fundamental skills of Boxing. Then they participate in a 2x3 minute rounds of a Boxing match against another opponent of a similar weight and experience. While cornering these participants, I had detected that many of them fought better than some of the martial arts students I had come across with several years of training – well done to all the participants and special gratitude goes out to the students from our academy for helping us in the corners until the early hours of the next morning.
As Pindi and I went through our seven hour shift of cornering 24 boxing bouts, as the last bout was literally at two in the morning. It was all worth it as we were raising money for a good cause.
As it happens there was a member of a famous family ‘The Turpin’ in the audience. The name is usually associated with the ‘Highway Robber’ – Dick Turpin but when the name ‘Randoplh Turpin’ was mentioned by the referee on the night, a crowd of over 1500 strong gave him a standing ovation. His great nephew Lewis Turpin had come to watch his friend box on the show, for him it was an extremely proud moment as his family received all the well-earned attention.
It was also a magical life changing moment, when you connect and instinctively know something has happened for a reason. The very next day he called up Pindi and booked a private training session and also an induction session in Combat Submission Wrestling.
Although he’s relatively new to the martial arts, as I got to know him a little better over the short period he has been training with us,. I felt it is interesting to see the steps an individual takes to find something that may or may not be suitable for him, in the maze that is the modern martial arts world.
I can also relate to him with his manual job – Plastering, slaving day in day out in a dead end occupation.
He also has family legacies that has already filled many volumes and are of interest to every fight fan!
Lewis is a very humble individual and as a martial arts student is like a sponge. “Observing what is Useful”- Bruce Lee!
Presently, you’re a Krav Maga student training in Leamington Spa and have recently begun training in our martial arts and boxing classes, what attracted you to these arts?
I’ve been weight-training for a few years and felt I needed a change, some-form of martial arts training to keep me in shape as I’m getting on a bit and am now hitting thirty years of age. I wanted to train in something new that involved a bit of everything as in; punching, kicking, grappling, that sort of stuff. After a little researching, I realised I was basically looking for a Mixed Martial Arts club, but the nearest one from my house involved quite a lot of traveling for each and every training session, so wasn’t a good Idea for me to join something I couldn’t keep up.
I was also looking for something that would cover self – defence situations, help me to look after myself, nothing too competitive again given my age, etc.
Why is age an issue Lewis, thirty years of age isn’t that old?
My age isn’t an issue in everyday life but it is an issue in the fight game. What I meant was realistically speaking I cannot fight or Box my way to a championship level due to my age. I’m still a novice as I didn’t begin to train in Krav Maga until I was at a mature age of twenty-nine.
I wanted to train in something I could take to a high level. I went online searching for that something for a while and saw a few things that were promising, i.e. the Filipino martial arts - Kali was one, Aikido being another, I was looking to train in something worthwhile and not just because it was the ‘flavour of the month’.
Then I came across Israeli martial arts - ‘Krav Maga’, I had never heard of it before! Checked out a load of background stuff on the web page and watched a few ‘Youtube’ clips, read up on it, and realised this is exactly what I was looking for. As I wasn’t driving at the time and the club being just down the road was a massive bonus. I went along to my first lesson, which I had booked a couple of days earlier and after a few sessions knew this was for me! I’m so glad I found it!
Now moving on to the Boxing – I’ve always wanted to do the sport. Recently I went along to watch my friend’s fight, as he was taking part in an Ultra White Collar Boxing/Total Martial Arts Academy Event at the Ricoh Arena Stadium in Coventry. When the referee asked if anyone was here from ‘Leamington Spa’ I was there and then everyone gave a big standing ovation for Randolph Turpin. Everyone cheering was a very proud moment for me - being a Turpin I get them quite often.
The very next day went online and booked a Boxing session with Pindi Madahar and signed up to train and compete in the next Ultra White Collar Boxing event in Coventry. I think the Ultra White Collar Boxing training and the event itself is great. The training in the UWCB Boxing is a great experience with just eight weeks of boxing training. You can just get up there and do something to remember for the rest of your life. I’m enjoying every minute of it, all the build up to the fight night and it’s also helping my Krav Maga training as we use virtually everything in Krav Maga, No rules, just self-protection at all costs.
I recognised your family name (Turpin) when you were filling out the application form at our academy.
Can you tell our readers why the name ‘Turpin’ is so famous? It’s not just because of the famous ‘Highway Robber - Dick Turpin’ is it?
You’re right, not because the famous highway robber, although my grandfather shared the same name as him.
My grandfather (Dick Turpin) was a champion Boxer with a record of 104 fights, 77 wins 20 loses 33kos 1 draw 1 no contest. His greatest achievements in his long boxing career were winning the Empire Title Belt, the Common Wealth Title Belt and the British Title Belt. He was the first Black person to win a Title for this country. Black boxers of the period were never allowed the same opportunities as their counterparts.
Generally speaking my grandfather had two battles going on, the colour barrier as well as the obvious fight itself. Making sure he beat his opponents very convincingly in the square circle - the Boxing Ring.
My Granduncle was Randolph Turpin (The Leamington Licker) who had a record of 75 fights, 66 wins, 45 KO’s, 8 Losses, 1 Draw. Randolph was one of the few men ever to have defeated the Legendary Sugar Ray Robinson. The victory over Sugar Ray in 1951 at Earl’s Court, London transformed Randolph into a national hero. As the New Middle Weight Boxing Champion of the World returned back to his home town, a crowd of about 18,000 people awaited to cheer him at Leamington Town Hall.
This was a massive achievement, as Sugar Ray Robinson was considered by many the best pound for pound boxer at the time (1940s and 50s). Over sixty years later and time as his testament he is the best in Boxing history, even ‘The Greatest’ – Muhammad Ali himself idolised the man.
Randolph Turpin was the youngest of the three Turpin Brothers; my Granddad (Dick Turpin) was the eldest. Jackie Turpin being the middle Brother and also boxed at featherweight with a record of 120 fights, 82 wins 35 Losses 8 Draws and 36 KO’s. There are quite a few books on the rise and fall of Randolph Turpin. The latest book on the ‘Turpin’s’ was published more recently in 2005 by Jackie Turpin and W. Terry Fox, entitled ‘BATTLING JACK – You Gotta Fight Back’.
My Granddad being the oldest Brother began teaching Randolph and Jackie to box and got them into boxing.
My Granddad announced his retirement in July 1950. After that, he helped Randolph to prepare for the dizzy heights of that glorious summer of 1951. Randolph was the world middle weight champion for three months as he lost his rematch with the boxing legend Sugar Ray Robinson in New York. Then there are those who have always said the result would have been different if my Granddad had not been refused permission to work his brother’s corner. All three of the Turpin brothers were born and bred fighters; we have a statue of Randolph Turpin in Warwickshire as well as a lot of memorabilia displayed all round Leamington Spa and Warwick museums.
Did anyone from the next generation continue with the family Boxing Tradition?
We have a really large family circle and I’m not in touch with a lot of them. I bumped into Randolph’s son, about five years ago for the first time while doing some building work - again we’ve not kept in touch. He’s more than forty years my senior and his name is also Randolph Turpin.
From our side of the family, my Dad Keith Turpin (born in 1957) started his boxing training at the age of about thirteen (1970). He boxed for St Peter's Boxing club were my Granddad and Uncle Jackie used to help coach. Later on he joined the Tile Hill Boxing club in Coventry and there he had over thirty amateur fights - his last fight was in 1979. He wasn't pressured into boxing by my Granddad or anything like that, he just did it because he wanted to because he enjoyed the sport.
Later on Uncle Jacks (Jackie) gym opened up in 1989 and my dad got me training, while he would help out with the boxer’s fitness there. This went on till about 1991 because he started a new job and unfortunately he was unable to take me to the gym anymore, so I had to stop training as I couldn't get there. Then shortly after Uncle Jack (Jackie) fell ill and the gym changed hands. After a long illness Jack passed away about four years ago at the age of 84 years,
My Mom enrolled me into a full contact Karate club and I trained there until 1994 and got to purple belt. Then my Mom fell pregnant with my baby Brother and I had to quit training yet again.
I know you were fairly young then. What were your impressions of the boxing and kickboxing training back then?
Thinking back I used to really enjoy it. I went training for about a year but the only bad thing about it was that I wasn’t allowed to compete until I was 13 or 14 years of age, as it was back then. To me this felt a very long way off, especially being as eager as I was at the time.
Well I didn’t do anything after that until about a year ago. I went to a Boxing gym for about a month, it was just the odd day here and there at Lillington Boxing Gym, purely because some of my friends went there so thought I’ll go and get my fitness up. I started MMA there but I didn’t stay very long as I couldn’t drive up there any longer.
I just continued with the weight training at a local gym just down the road from where I lived. It wasn’t until last year I thought I need to get myself sorted and start doing something properly again!
You just got back from a week long Krav Maga training in Poland, What sort of stuff have you covered in?
Yes! We travelled to Poland to a summer camp and trained with a guy called Darius Walus. His one of the top instructors in Krav Maga and the founder of FCF (Full Contact Fighting) Team, he invited our instructor Bartosz and his group the ‘Krav Maga Midlands’ to join his group. There were about 50 of us altogether but only 6 of us from the UK. We covered lots of material from various levels of Krav Maga training and some material they don’t normally teach, covering knife, stick, gun and rifle disarms. At the end of every training session we did lots of sparring, applying everything we had learnt through the day - we got a hell of a lot from the sparring sessions!
All in all it was a great experience we trained twice a day in different locations traveling round Poland and also in Czech Republic. The training was in different terrains everyday out in the woodlands, at a ski jump base, trained in mountains areas, (after climbing up it!) some 6 - 7k up and they also took us to shooting range, firing all kinds of guns. It was good fun and at the end of the week we went through a 25 man attacking process, walking up a path with people doing different scenarios played around with what we learned though the entire week. Amazing experience and training; I can’t wait to go back next year!
You’ve also just begun training in Kali with us, how are you finding the Filipino Martial Arts
Yeah I’m really enjoying it! I’ve read a fair bit on the art and as I said before I was looking into doing Kali anyway. I’m also looking to expand the skills as much as possible in Kali, judging from what I’ve seen of the Filipino martial arts it’s definitely one of those arts worth exploring!
After I’m done with the Ultra White Collar Boxing shows, I’ll be looking at doing a few other things at your training academy (Coventry’s Total Martial Arts Academy) as well as the Kali, I fancy learning MMA/CSW (Combat Submission Wrestling) properly and Muay Thai with Pindi.
Although one of the most successful boxers this country has produced, he passed away at fairly a young age. Do you know much about his sad ending?
Yes unfortunately Randy (Randolph Turpin) shot himself in 1966 at his home in Leamington Spa, sad ending really. It was just eight years after his fight with Suger Ray Robinson.
Yes, you’re right Lewis, a sad loss to both your family and the Boxing world. You’re family certainly has a Boxing legacy and is a part of Boxing history. Do you ever wish you had followed in the footsteps of your Grandfather and Granduncle’s?
I say this to myself all the time! It’s always been in the back of my head. When I was growing up, party life style had taken hold of my path and I was stayed on that path until recently. My girlfriend became pregnant and finally the partying stopped. We have an 18 month son, moved into a new house and sorted out my training.
Now that I’ve started doing some training, it feels like this is what I should be doing! Sometimes I’m at work slaving (Plastering) away and I think to myself this isn’t how I should be earning a living – the internal voice tells me, ‘you’ve screwed up mate’ haha!
When I first started Krav Maga I used to get asked a lot, if or how long I’ve been boxing and once my instructor even said that I was a bit of a dark horse. I guess, it must be in the genes, a natural gift. Even in the training for the ‘Ultra White Collar Boxing’ you’ve got going now at the academy, I’ve already been asked a few times the same old questions but it is what it is, I can’t change it. I’m happy doing what I’m doing and going to keep on going forward.
Now, that you’re well into your training what would you like to achieve in the next few years?
I want to achieve as much as I can and I know I’m kind of aware that I’m past my prime. My age to compete in Boxing is against me but I might be able to do something real out there and go all the way. I have a lot of weight on my shoulders, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to train any more. In fact I’m looking into expanding into a couple of martial arts that go with each other and look into teaching in the future hopefully. If nothing comes from it so be it but may be at the very least I want to do something to carry on the family Legacy. I have a son now, maybe he'll be the one to carry the name on!? Who knows!
I had just finished writing this interview. Then Lewis invited me to the unveiling of a painting of his Grandfather Dick Turpin by an incredible artist - Paul Oz.
Regrettably I couldn’t attend because I didn’t have cover for my class at the academy, needless to say I was gutted for missing out on such a historical event.
If you haven’t seen Paul Oz’s work, google him and check out the paintings of Bruce Lee, Muhammad Ali, Star Trek, Thunderbirds, Clint Eastwood, Bob Marley, Mr Bean and these are just to mention a few!
Dick Turpin -The first Black Boxer to ever win the British Title belt has also won the colour barrier and paved the way for the generations that followed.
“I have a dream that one day little black boys and girls will be holding hands with little white boys and girls” – Martin Luther King Jr.
Congratulations to Lewis & Family, it’s an extravagant work of art!
Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed Lewis and Wish you All the Best in Training!
Until next month – God Bless!
About the Columnist: Lakhvinder S. Madahar has 42 years’ experience in the Martial Arts and is the founder/owner of Coventry’s Total Martial Arts Academy. He is in Martial Arts Illustrated Hall of Fame 2012 (Top Instructors and School owners) and in the Combat & Fighters Hall of Fame 2011 (Commitment & Devotion to The Development of Martial Arts in the United Kingdom and around the World).
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