Blether: Boxer Wullie was robbed but boxing then lacked integrity

Dick McTaggart

Dick McTaggart was due to be back in the city late last year for a testimonial evening for tragic Dundee boxer Mike Towell.

Unfortunately, the event was cancelled.

Dick would have been in the company of local city councillors that evening — and my hope was that the subject of a statue for him may have been rekindled.

Rob Boag has been a big supporter of the campaign to recognise McTaggart in the city more than that which already exists.

In his latest contribution, he recalls McTaggart and several other great Dundee names and institutions.

“My recall of the time-frame isn’t positive but I think it was the early part of 1958,” he opened.

“My recall of the location is positive, however, as it was the Globe Bar, that still inhabits the West Port in Dundee.

“I stopped in to see if Wullie Bannon was in attendance and have a shandy with him.

“Sure enough, when I entered I saw Wullie regaling the locals with boxing stories.

“Wullie, sometimes known as Bill, trained at the Hawkhill Boxing Club, and relaxed at the Globe hostelry.

“Wullie was in great shape and great form that year with a string of knock-outs behind him.

“He was certain to be selected for Scotland’s international boxing team in the light-heavyweight division at the British Empire Games in Cardiff later that year,.

“Wullie knew he had what was needed to go all the way to the final.”

Rob, from Canada, continued: “I remember we talked about Dick McTaggart, and Wullie was hoping Scotland’s Amateur Boxing Association would select Dick for the first time to be included in the international team at the upcoming Empire Games.

“This would have two Dundee lads competing for their country (Scotland)at Cardiff.

“At this point in time, Dick McTaggart had never been chosen to box for Scotland.

“In 1956, Dick was part of Her Majesty’s Service — the RAF — stationed in Halton, England. ABA Scotland overlooked Dick that year as a potential team candidate for their boxing squad, and ABA England couldn’t believe their luck. They invited McTaggart to compete under the England banner — a legitimate request as Dick was stationed in England.

“And compete he did, winning the ABA lightweight title, an Olympic gold medal, and the prestigious Val Barker award — all of these magnificent trophies won in the year of 1956 while representing England.

“In 1958, Dick entered the Scottish Amateur Boxing Championships and won the lightweight title in Edinburgh.

“ABA Scotland selected him to represent his country at the Empire games and Dick rewarded Scotland with a gold medal.”

Rob further recalled: “Wullie Bannon won bronze at the Empire Games but it should have been better.

“In the semi-finals, Wullie’s opponent was a lad from Cardiff, the city where the games were held. For three rounds, the Cardiff lad literally ran away from Bannon, with Wullie pleading with the referee to demand the lad make an effort to compete.

“The Cardiff lad was announced the winner on points, and went on to the final, where he lost.

“Wullie later told me he was robbed. Wullie was surely robbed and so was the sport of boxing robbed, it demeaned itself of integrity and of the true definition of sportsmanship and fair play.

“It destroyed the dream of Wullie Bannon, who knew he had what was needed to reach the final.”