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British Boxing Manager and Promoter Extraordinaire Mickey Duff Dies at 84
By Robert Brizel, Head RCM Boxing Correspondent
London, UK (March 24th, 2014)– Mickey Duff, the charismatic British boxing trainer, matchmaker and promoter who handled such big boxing names as Jim Watt, Alan Minter, Lloyd Honeyghan, John Conteh, Terry Downes, Howard Winstone, Maurice Hope, John Mugabi, and Cornelius Boza Edwards, has died of natural causes in London, England at the age of 84.
Among the best boxers of Duff’s students as a trainer was Terry Downes, who beat Joey Giardello, DonFullmer, Phil Moyer, and Sugar Ray Robinson en route to stopping Paul Pender and winning the World Middleweight championship in July 11, 1961 at Wembley Arena in London. Downes did not beat middleweight chamnpion Dick Tiger, did not win two other championship matches with Pender, and lost to WBA and WBC World Light Heavyweight champion Willie Pastrano in his final bout on November 30, 1964. The matches Downes lost to Pender were the only two times Duff allowed Downes to fight outside of the United Kingdom. Downes other matches were held in London and Liverpool.
Between 1979 and 1997, Duff promoted 33 significant boxing events which were all in London, excepting one event he promoted in 2982 in Toscana, Italy. Future world middleweight champion Alan Minter appeared at Wembley Arena in London on Duff’s first seven bout card on February 6, 1979. Duff’s last card at Bethany Green in London featured seven bouts on November 11, 1997, and in the exciting tradition of British boxing, only two of the bouts went the distance.
Born Monek Prager in Krakow, Poland, on June 7, 1929, Duff and his parents immigrated to England, fleeing Nazi persecution. Duff turned pro in the welterweight division at age 15 illegally, retiring at age 19 with a record of 33-8-3, with four knockouts. Duff worked as a sewing machine salesman before becoming a full-fledged boxing promoter. In the era before Frankie Warren, Duff’s rise as a promoter had a key edge due to his longtime media boxing partnership and special relationship with the British Broadcasting Corporation.