The name Teddy Baldock is enshrined in the record books as Britain's youngest ever world boxing champion. Born in Poplar on May 23rd, 1907, boxing was in his blood, his grandfather having been a bare-knuckle fighter. At the tender age of 13 Baldock turned professional, his brilliant boxing skills and colourful style saw him rise to be a top liner at the Royal Albert Hall. After a successful trip to America where the young Englishman took part in 12 contests within 3 months, winning 11 and drawing 1, the popular fighter was offered the chance to fight for the then-vacant world bantamweight title.
At 19 Teddy Baldock defeated American Archie Bell at the Royal Albert Hall for the world championship, in one of the greatest bouts between boxing's little men. His continued success helped secure his place as a British sporting idol, the Prince of Wales being one of his avid supporters. He went on to capture British, European and Commonwealth honours.
In 1929 he was initiated into the Cosmopolitan Lodge No. 917, Mark Masons Hall, London.
Unfortunately at the age of 24, and after a distinguished career of over 80 contests with only 5 losses, Baldock was forced to retire due to injuries he had sustained in the ring. He remained a hero in the East End of London long after his heyday. His wedding commanded front page news in a number of national newspapers and was filmed by no less than 3 news companies including Pathe and Movietone.
Tragically in 1971 Teddy Baldock died penniless. Without the discipline of the sport he had acquired a taste for the "good life", drinking and gambling accounting for much of his earnings. The bombing of London during World War 2 also destroyed a number of properties in which he had invested.
On the 8th March his ashes were interred in the Garden of Remembrance at Southend Crematorium. The man who had thrilled packed boxing arenas with his noble art was completely forgotten - until now.
Teddy Baldock's Grandson, Martin Sax, a former Colour Sergeant in the Royal Marines, recently co-wrote and published his grandfather's life story, Teddy Baldock - The Pride of Poplar. Since the success of the book he has started The Teddy Baldock Sports Benevolent Fund, registered charity no. 1146653, which was set up to assist people who have been severely injured in sport and to offer disadvantaged youths an opportunity to get involved in sport.
A life-size bronze statue has also been commissioned, to be erected outside the Langdon Park DLR Station, Poplar, East London, only yards from where Teddy Baldock grew up. This is in conjunction with the development of the new state-of-the-art Spotlight Youth Centre which aims to provide opportunities for local young people and help tackle some of their problems, including training and education needs, teenage pregnancy, obesity, substance abuse and gang violence. It is hoped that as well as promoting the charity, the statue will act as an inspiration to the local youth as well as commemorating the achievements of a local hero and Britain's youngest ever world boxing champion.
Teddy Baldock currently features in the exhibition Game, Set and Lodge: Freemasons and Sport held at the Library and Museum of Freemasonry in London from July – December 2012.
If you are interested in supporting the charity including the statue project, further details can be found at the Big Give website www.thebiggive.org.uk or by contacting Teddy's grandson, Martin via the website www.teddybaldock.co.uk