OBITUARY: Johnny Williams.
In this way, he had claimed the prizes in fairground booths, amid the spray of blood and sweat, while punters threw their stakes into caps. If you were to survive, dodging punches was as important as landing them.
It served Johnny Williams well as he became the British and Empire heavyweight champion.
But, in truth, his whippy punches were so hard and accurate that 38 of his 60 professional wins were knock-outs. He lost 11 contests and drew four.
British crowds then favoured big-hitters and some of inexpert judgment felt that Williams was too cautious.
Williams was born in Barmouth, North Wales, where his parents ran a boarding house, having given up farming during the Depression.
With many of his contemporaries taking to the rugby fields, Williams developed his skills as a fighter in the fairground before turning professional in 1946.
His speed and ringcraft brought him quick victories and a loyal band of admirers, but he was a quietly-spoken and modest man, who never courted publicity.
However, in July, 1950, he hit the sports headlines when he was matched against Jack Gardner in Leicester. This was a classic encounter between strength and guile. Gardner reopened a gash on Williams's cheek with a series of big blows, but he was also taking a lot of punishment.
After 15 rounds, the decision went to Gardner, but it had been close. Both men fought other bouts in the coming months, during which Gardner won the British and Empire title.
They met again at Earl's Court, London, in March, 1952. The fight followed a similar pattern to the first one, but this time Williams was scoring regularly on the counter attack. The verdict went his way.
He defended his title successfully against the South African, Johnny Arthur, before losing it over 15 rounds to the shorter Don Cockell, who had a deadly left jab. As he strove for former glories, Williams lost several fights and he was knocked out after five rounds by his old rival, Gardner.
He retired in 1956 to farm near Rugby. He was married with a daughter.
Johnny Williams, boxer; born December 25, 1926, died January 29, 2007.