Johnny Chapman: Obituary

The late Johnny Chapman
The late Johnny Chapman

JOHNNY CHAPMAN, who died on Wednesday, February 3, at the age of 81, will be remembered for his prolific winning boxing record.

Chapman will also go down as one of the driving forces in professional boxing and as a key figure on the circuit as part of Jack Bishop’s gym.

The stalwart died last week from stomach cancer in Jubilee House, Cosham.

He chalked up an incredible amateur record of 284 wins from 307, with 22 defeats and a single draw.

Chapman collected an impressive array of titles in his long career, as well as boxing international opposition and reaching the semi-finals of the ABA Championships.

Bishop described him as a ‘grandad’ to his stable of boxers, as he worked tirelessly with them to prepare for contests.

As well as providing technical knowhow, he would offer them support and advice over personal issues.

Born in Reading in June 1934, Chapman’s passion for the noble art emerged at the age of 12 when he joined the army cadets.

His debut contest resulted in a first-round stoppage win, before he began work at a Royal Air Force factory in Farnborough.

That saw him selected for the RAF team, and, because of the lack of heavyweight boxers, the light-heavyweight would take on much heavier opposition.

At 13 stone, Chapman gave away four stone to American serviceman Tommy Mottern but stopped him in the first round. Irishman Danno Maher weighed a whopping 22 stone but Chapman beat him on points at the National Stadium in Dublin.

He topped an open-air stadium show in Woking in 1953 against Rhodesia’s champion, George Erasmus, but was stopped on cuts.

His career saw a host of titles collected, including becoming Hampshire, Southern Counties and Civil Service champion on three occasions.

Chapman also won RAF, Group, Command and Imperial Service titles.

After being demobbed in 1957, Chapman boxed professionally and picked up a stoppage win on his bow.

He suffered a bad cut on his second contest, though, and had a 4-3 record when he was forced to retire due to a cricket injury.

Chapman later had a successful mini-cab and heavy goods vehicle businesses, before building a chain of cafes through Portsmouth.

It’s in recent decades that Chapman worked closely with Bishop as his ‘right-hand man’, helping hundreds of boxers in his gym in Southampton.

‘He had a kind word for everyone,’ said Bishop of his friend.

‘He was like a grandad to the boxers.

I will miss him – boxing will miss him.’

Chapman’s funeral details have yet to be confirmed.