There'd been a good crop of fighters from the valley. No less than three champions of the world had been born within a radius of six miles of where they sat.
In a pub down the road, there were signed photographs of all three, Tom Thomas, Freddie Welsh, Jimmy Wilde. And hadn't they all fought their way over the tips and out of the pit in the first instance? It was a local tradition with which they had all grown up. Weren't they, after all, rather special people? Although Benja said nothing, he flexed his shoulder muscles self-consciously. Of course, when he came to think of it, he did have the build for the fight game, and of course, you could train any bloody thing. He'd trained dogs himself for years. It was a matter of stick and graft, and what Jecko'd said was right, he could hit and move.
He had the strong legs, narrow hips and exceptionally developed shoulder muscles of a boxer. That was no fancy. Benja was, as it happened, one of those men who lose no opportunity of displaying themselves in the nude. He was always last out of the colliery showers, towel about his midriff, always indulging in various kinds of semi-lewd horseplay. He was a physical man, hard knock, as they said locally, and of such stuff, champions are made.
'Champions be Christ!' he thought. He could just see himself under the arc lights in the Gardens like old Tommy Farr up the road. It would take a Taff to hang one on the Louisville Lip.
And think of the birds!
Madison What-you-call? What was that big stadium over there? But he'd better put the block on it and say nothing.
"Good Gawd, look at that!" he said eventually when the fights had restarted and he watched a pair of ill-matched welterweights fumble and miss in front of him.
"Kid stuff," Ivor Jones said flatly.
"Pure boys' club, it is. There's no footwork, nuthin special about them at all. D'you mean to say you couldn't do better than that, Benja?" "Oh, I dunno," Benja gave a self-depreciatory scowl, but then unaccountably volunteered the information, "I hit a hole in a oak door once."
"Ah, but you would," said Ivor Jones knowingly. He leant across and held Benja's elbow testingly between palm and thumb.
"I would've 'spected it. If you got a arm like that, you got what they calls a shorter distance from the fulcrum. I mean, it's a natural."
Continues tomorrow Dai Country by Alun Richards is published by Parthian as part of the Library of Wales series. For more information on the series visit www.libraryofwales.org To buy your copy visit www.gwales.com
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|Publication:||Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)|
|Date:||Mar 5, 2010|
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