BOXING HAS LOST ONE OF ITS GREATEST CHAMPIONS – OF THE WORD
Frank Warren pays a personal tribute to writer Ken Jones
Boxing has lost one of its best friends and staunchest supporters of the sport with the death on Thursday morning at 87 of Ken Jones, one of the finalist journalists in the business. A lovely man whose lifetime was packed with entertaining those who loved sport, first as a footballer then as a writer of the highest order.
He was also a mate and a journalist I greatly admired and trusted implicitly, one of the old school who knew boxing inside out as well as the people in it on both sides of the Atlantic where he was hugely respected in his game and ours.
So it was natural that Ken should become a footballer, joining Swansea as a junior then playing for Southend United and Gravesend and Northfleet before his career was curtailed by an Achilles injury.
He then turned to journalism and wrote as he had played as a cultured wing half, with intelligence, verve and style. This carried him in through as a reporter and award-winning columnist first with the tabloid Daily and Sunday Mirror, and then the newly-established broadsheet The Independent from football World Cup and the Olympics to the biggest fights such as those in Zaire and Manila. He was one of the writers closest to Muhammad Ali and with his great buddy Hugh McIlvanney of the Sunday Times was the first to get an exclusive interview the morning after the fight before, being personally invited by Ali into his villa on the banks of the Zaire River. There Ali spoke revealingly of his inner thoughts after the Rumble in the Jungle and of his own future.
Boxing had become a great love for Ken and such was his passion for the sport that the Boxing Writers Club, of which he was a former chairman, named its annual award for the outstanding amateur of the year after him. It will be a particularly poignant moment when the Ken Jones Trophy is presented at the Club dinner on Monday week.
He was a man of great personal courage, too After he lost part of his right arm in an horrific tragic train accident he was back at his laptop within days tapping out his eloquent prose with his left hand. He also learned to play golf and snooker with his one remaining hand.
Myself and all at Queensberry Promotions offer most sincere condolences to his wife Kathleen, son Gareth, who is deputy chairman of both Queensberry and BoxNation, his three daughters and their families.
So in just over a year British boxing has lost four of his most celebrated and supportive scribes in Hugh McIlvanney, James Lawton, also of the Independent and formerly the Express, Neil Allen of the Times and London Evening Standard and now my friend Ken. Sad times indeed