Freddie Mills
Freddie Mills, was an English boxer, who was the world light heavyweight boxing
Boxing, also called pugilism, is a combat sport in which two people fight each other using their fists. Boxing is supervised by a referee over a series of between one to three minute intervals called rounds...

 champion from 1948 to 1950. He was born in Poole
Poole is a large coastal town and seaport in the county of Dorset, on the south coast of England. The town is east of Dorchester, and Bournemouth adjoins Poole to the east. The Borough of Poole was made a unitary authority in 1997, gaining administrative independence from Dorset County Council...

, England.

Early life

He was born Frederick Percival Mills in Parkstone
Parkstone is an area of Poole, Dorset. It is divided into 'Lower' and 'Upper' Parkstone. Upper Parkstone - "Up-on-'ill" as it used to be known in local parlance - is so-called because it is largely on higher ground slightly to the north of the lower-lying area of Lower Parkstone - "The Village" -...

, a suburb of Poole
Poole is a large coastal town and seaport in the county of Dorset, on the south coast of England. The town is east of Dorchester, and Bournemouth adjoins Poole to the east. The Borough of Poole was made a unitary authority in 1997, gaining administrative independence from Dorset County Council...

, Dorset
Dorset , is a county in South West England on the English Channel coast. The county town is Dorchester which is situated in the south. The Hampshire towns of Bournemouth and Christchurch joined the county with the reorganisation of local government in 1974...

. He was the youngest of four children of Thomas James Mills, a totter and marine store dealer, and his wife Lottie Hilda Gray. He received a pair of boxing gloves when he was eleven, and he used to spar with his brother Charlie. He attended St Michael's School in Bournemouth
Bournemouth is a large coastal resort town in the ceremonial county of Dorset, England. According to the 2001 Census the town has a population of 163,444, making it the largest settlement in Dorset. It is also the largest settlement between Southampton and Plymouth...

 until the age of fourteen, and then became an apprentice milkman. He had his first boxing match on 26 February 1936 at the local ice rink (aged 16), and won by a knockout in the first round.

Professional career

He began fighting in fairground booths and at venues on the south coast. Mills was 5 ft 10½ in and did not have a sophisticated boxing style. However he relied on two-fisted aggression, relentless pressure, and the ability to take punishment to carry him through, and in more cases than not these attributes were sufficient. Mills excelled as a light-heavyweight boxer, but occasionally fought as a heavyweight. Although he sometimes won at the heavier weight, he always struggled against the big men and took a lot of punishment.

His first 64 fights, in 3½ years, against minor light-heavyweights resulted in 48 wins, 9 losses and 7 draws. He then stepped up in class to fight Jock McAvoy
Jock McAvoy
Jock McAvoy was a British boxer who fought from 1927 to 1945. He was born Joseph Patrick Bamford in Rochdale, Lancashire. Jo Bamford adopted the name Jock McAvoy so that his mother did not realise he was boxing...

, the British and Commonwealth middleweight champion, who had, the previous year, unsuccessfully fought Len Harvey
Len Harvey
Len Harvey was a boxer born in Stoke Climsland, Cornwall. A great tactician and defensive boxer who boxed at every weight division of his day. He began boxing at the very young age of 12 and boxed to he was 36. He was British champion at three weights, middleweight, light-heavy and heavyweight...

 for the British and Commonwealth light-heavyweight titles. The fight against McAvoy took place in Liverpool
Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England, along the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary. It was founded as a borough in 1207 and was granted city status in 1880...

 in August 1940 and Mills won a clear decision over ten rounds.

During the rest of 1940 and 1941, Mills continued to fight. In December 1941, he fought Jack London
Jack London (boxer)
Jack London was an English heavyweight boxer. He was British and Commonwealth Heavyweight champion from 1944 to 1945...

, a heavyweight who was later (in 1944) to win the British and Commonwealth heavyweight titles. Mills won on points over ten rounds.

British light-heavyweight title

In February 1942, Mills fought Jock McAvoy again, in a final eliminator for the British light-heavyweight title. The fight, in the Royal Albert Hall
Royal Albert Hall
The Royal Albert Hall is a concert hall situated on the northern edge of the South Kensington area, in the City of Westminster, London, England, best known for holding the annual summer Proms concerts since 1941....

, ended after one round when McAvoy was forced to retire with an injured back. The way was open for Mills to challenge Len Harvey for the British and Commonwealth light-heavyweight titles.

The title fight took place on 20 June 1942, at White Hart Lane
White Hart Lane
White Hart Lane is an all-seater football stadium in Tottenham, London, England. Built in 1899, it is the home of Tottenham Hotspur and, after numerous renovations, the stadium has a capacity of 36,230....

, Tottenham
Tottenham is an area of the London Borough of Haringey, England, situated north north east of Charing Cross.-Toponymy:Tottenham is believed to have been named after Tota, a farmer, whose hamlet was mentioned in the Domesday Book; hence Tota's hamlet became Tottenham...

, in front of a crowd of 40,000. In the second round Mills caught Harvey with a powerful left hook and put him down for a count of nine. When Harvey got up Mills hit him with a left uppercut to win by a knockout. Mills now had the light-heavyweight titles. Harvey also had a lightly regarded claim to being world champion but Mills never pressed it.

In September 1944, Mills fought Jack London
Jack London (boxer)
Jack London was an English heavyweight boxer. He was British and Commonwealth Heavyweight champion from 1944 to 1945...

 for the vacant British and Commonwealth heavyweight titles. The fight took place at the Kings Hall, Belle Vue, Manchester
Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England. According to the Office for National Statistics, the 2010 mid-year population estimate for Manchester was 498,800. Manchester lies within one of the UK's largest metropolitan areas, the metropolitan county of Greater...

, with Mills conceding about three stones (19 kilos) in weight. Neither man was a stylish boxer but they slugged it out over fifteen rounds with London gaining the points decision.

World title fight

After the London fight Mills was posted to India as a light entertainer, a skill he was to make use of later. In May 1946, he was given a shot at the world light-heavyweight title when he was matched with the current champion, American, Gus Lesnevich
Gus Lesnevich
Gustav George Lesnevich was an American boxer. Lesnevich was born and raised in Cliffside Park, New Jersey....

. The fight took place at Harringay Arena
Harringay Arena
Harringay Arena was a sporting and events venue on Green Lanes in Harringay, North London, England. Built in 1936, it lasted as a venue until 1958.-Construction:...

, and Mills took a terrible beating, probably the worst of his career. He was knocked down twice in the second round, but managed to fight his way back in the subsequent rounds. However he was caught again in the tenth round and put down twice before the referee stopped the fight. It has been claimed that he was not in proper shape for the fight.

Less than a month after his punishing fight against Lesnevich, Mills fought British heavyweight Bruce Woodcock
Bruce Woodcock (boxer)
Bruce Woodcock was an English boxer. He was the British and Empire heavyweight champion 1945-1950, and European heavyweight champion 1946-1949. He had a large fanbase, and his participation in a competition often resulted in sellout crowds...

, losing a twelve-round fight on points after being knocked down in the fourth.

In November 1946, Mills fought another heavyweight, American Joe Baksi
Joe Baksi
Joe Baksi was a top heavyweight contender who defeated fighters such as Tami Mauriello, Lee Savold, Lou Nova, and Freddie Mills, while losing decisions to Jersey Joe Walcott and Ezzard Charles.-Background:...

. Mills suffered two badly cut eyes and a severe battering before giving up at the end of the sixth round.

European title

In September 1947, Mills fought for the vacant European light-heavyweight title against the Belgian
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

, Pol Goffaux, winning by a knockout in the fourth round. He defended the title in February 1948, against the Spaniard
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

, Paco Bueno, winning by a knockout in the second round.

World title

On 26 July 1948, Mills was matched against Gus Lesnevich
Gus Lesnevich
Gustav George Lesnevich was an American boxer. Lesnevich was born and raised in Cliffside Park, New Jersey....

 for his second attempt at the world light-heavyweight title. Mills was in much better shape for this fight, held at the White City Stadium
White City Stadium
White City Stadium was built in White City, London, for the 1908 Summer Olympics, often seen as the precursor to the modern seater stadium and noted for hosting the finish of the first modern distance marathon. It also hosted speedway and a match at the 1966 World Cup, before the stadium was...

, London. The fight lasted fifteen rounds and Mills boxed well, putting Lesnevich down twice, securing a points decision and the world title. Later, the sounds from Lesnevich's camp and the American press seemed to be indicating that Lesnevich's defeat was down to his continual problems to reach the Light Heavyweight limit of 175 pounds. However, while his difficulties in making weight were undeniable (Lesnevich regularly fought around the 180 pound mark taking on good fighters such as Tami Mauriello, Jimmy Bivins
Jimmy Bivins
James Louis Bivins, is a former American heavyweight boxer whose professional career ran from 1940 to 1955. He was born in Dry Branch, Georgia...

 and later Ezzard Charles
Ezzard Charles
Ezzard Mack Charles was an African-American professional boxer and former world heavyweight champion. He holds wins over numerous Hall of Fame fighters in three different weight classes. Charles retired with a record of 93 wins, 25 losses and 1 draw.-Career:He was born in Lawrenceville, Georgia,...

) his defeat was largely brought about by the cuts over both of his eyes, which had streamed with blood from the opening round onwards.

In June 1949, Mills again stepped up to heavyweight, when he challenged Bruce Woodcock
Bruce Woodcock (boxer)
Bruce Woodcock was an English boxer. He was the British and Empire heavyweight champion 1945-1950, and European heavyweight champion 1946-1949. He had a large fanbase, and his participation in a competition often resulted in sellout crowds...

 for his British, Commonwealth and European heavyweight titles. They fought at the White City Stadium, and Mills showed his usual courage but was knocked out in the fourteenth round.

On 24 January 1950, Mills defended his world title against an American, Joey Maxim
Joey Maxim
Giuseppe Antonio Berardinelli was an American boxer. He was a light heavyweight champion of the world. He took the ring-name Joey Maxim from the Maxim gun, the world's first self-acting machine gun, based on his ability to rapidly throw a large number of left jabs.-Early career:Maxim was born in...

, at Earls Court
Earls Court
Earls Court is a district in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London, England. It is an inner-city district centred on Earl's Court Road and surrounding streets, located 3.1 miles west south-west of Charing Cross. It borders the sub-districts of South Kensington to the East, West...

, London. Mills dominated the fight for the first three rounds but Maxim began to overhaul him in the following rounds, until in the tenth he caught Mills with a flurry of head punches and won by a knockout. Mills’s reign as world champion was over, and a few weeks later he announced his retirement.

Personal life

On 30 September 1948, Mills married Marie McCorkindale, the daughter of his manager, Ted Broadribb. She had previously married another boxer Donald McCorkindale and had a son by him. Mills and his wife went on to have two daughters. He was living on Denmark Hill
Denmark Hill
Denmark Hill is an area and road in the London Borough of Southwark. The road forms part of the A215; north of Camberwell Green it becomes Camberwell Road; south of Red Post Hill it becomes Herne Hill. Its postcode is SE5. Nearby streets whose names refer to different aspects of the same...

 in South London until his death.


On retiring, he used his popularity to keep himself in the public eye, making walk-on appearances in various films and becoming a presenter on the BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

Pop music
Pop music is usually understood to be commercially recorded music, often oriented toward a youth market, usually consisting of relatively short, simple songs utilizing technological innovations to produce new variations on existing themes.- Definitions :David Hatch and Stephen Millward define pop...

 programme, Six-Five Special
Six-Five Special
The Six-Five Special is a British television programme launched in February 1957 when both television and rock and roll were in their infancy in Britain.-Description:...

. He also became owner of a restaurant in Soho
Soho is an area of the City of Westminster and part of the West End of London. Long established as an entertainment district, for much of the 20th century Soho had a reputation for sex shops as well as night life and film industry. Since the early 1980s, the area has undergone considerable...

, which later became a nightclub
A nightclub is an entertainment venue which usually operates late into the night...

. He became friends with the Kray Twins
Kray twins
Reginald "Reggie" Kray and his twin brother Ronald "Ronnie" Kray were the foremost perpetrators of organised crime in London's East End during the 1950s and 1960s...

, notorious criminals who frequented his club. During the latter stages of his boxing career, Mills suffered from frequent headaches, which continued after his retirement. After its initial success his nightclub began to fail and he tried to sell it, without success. He sold off what property he had but was in serious financial difficulty.


On 24 July 1965 he was found shot in the head in his car, parked in a cul-de-sac behind his nightclub. He died later in the Middlesex Hospital
Middlesex Hospital
The Middlesex Hospital was a teaching hospital located in the Fitzrovia area of London, United Kingdom. First opened in 1745 on Windmill Street, it was moved in 1757 to Mortimer Street where it remained until it was finally closed in 2005. Its staff and services were transferred to various sites...

. He had told the nightclub staff that he was going for a nap in his car, something that he often did. A week or two previously he had borrowed a rifle from a friend who ran a shooting gallery. Although the rifle was not in working order when borrowed, it had apparently been repaired and was found in the car alongside him. The coroner’s inquest heard that the angle of the bullet was consistent with a self-inflicted wound, and the inquest ruled that he had committed suicide.

Mills was buried in Camberwell New Cemetery
Camberwell Cemeteries
The two Camberwell cemeteries are within close proximity to one another in Honor Oak, South London, England. Both have noteworthy burials and architecture...

, South London
South London
South London is the southern part of London, England, United Kingdom.According to the 2011 official Boundary Commission for England definition, South London includes the London boroughs of Bexley, Bromley, Croydon, Greenwich, Kingston, Lambeth, Lewisham, Merton, Southwark, Sutton and...

. Among the pallbearers were Jack Solomons
Jack Solomons
Jack Solomons was a British boxing promoter who has been called "one of the greatest boxing promoters in history."He began promoting boxing in London during the 1930s. His first great success came when he put together a match between Jack London and Bruce Woodcock for the British heavyweight title...

, the boxing promoter and Henry Cooper
Henry Cooper
Henry Cooper may refer to:*Sir Henry Cooper , British Heavyweight boxer*Henry Cooper from Tennessee*Henry Cooper , English recipient of the Victoria Cross...

, British heavyweight champion. His grave has a marble boxing glove on it, beneath which is an urn containing a real boxing glove.

Following his death, several lurid theories sprang up: such as that Mills, married with children, had been arrested in a public toilet and charged with homosexual indecency, or that his suicide had been staged by Chinese gangsters who were after his club. There was even a story that he was about to be revealed as a serial killer, nicknamed Jack the Stripper
Jack the Stripper
Jack the Stripper was the nickname given to an unknown serial killer responsible for what came to be known as the London "nude murders" between 1964 and 1965 ....


Evaluation as a boxer

Although Mills was not a stylish boxer, he had the necessary talent to gain the world light-heavyweight championship. In handing out punishment he was often prepared to take much punishment himself, something that boxers cannot continue to do over a long career. To make matters worse, he was often matched against heavyweights, conceding large weight advantages to his opponents. This was the case when he fought Joe Baksi and Bruce Woodcock (twice). Mills seems to have been willing to accept the challenge, but he should have been better protected by his manager and the boxing promoters. If Mills had remained within his own weight division, he would have taken less punishment during his career and he might have remained world champion for longer than he did.

Selected filmography

  • Carry On Constable
    Carry On Constable
    Carry On Constable is the fourth Carry On film. It was released in 1960. Of the regular team, it featured Kenneth Connor, Kenneth Williams, Charles Hawtrey, Joan Sims and Hattie Jacques. Sid James makes his debut in the series here, while early regulars Leslie Phillips, Eric Barker and Shirley...

  • Saturday Night Out
    Saturday Night Out
    Saturday Night Out is a 1964 British comedy drama film directed by Robert Hartford-Davis and starring Heather Sears, John Bonney, Bernard Lee, Erika Remberg, Francesca Annis, Margaret Nolan and David Lodge. A trio of merchant seamen and several passengers disembark from their ship when it arrives...

  • The Comedy Man
    The Comedy Man
    The Comedy Man is a 1964 British drama film directed by Alvin Rakoff and starring Kenneth More, Cecil Parker, Dennis Price and Billie Whitelaw...

  • Joey Boy
    Joey Boy
    -Biography:Born into a Thai-Chinese family, Joey Boy started listening to hip hop when he was 14 years old and skateboarding. In 1994, he was signed to Bakery Music. His first release was a self-titled EP. He recorded nine more albums with the label....


Further reading

  • Oxford DNB article:
  • Maurice Golesworthy, Encyclopaedia of Boxing (Eighth Edition) (1988), Robert Hale Limited, ISBN 0-7090-3323-0
  • Nigel Collins, Boxing Babylon (1990), Robson Books Limited, ISBN 0-86051-714-4

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.