The ArgusTributes paid to boxer who fought prejudice (From The Argus)

Get involved: Send your news, views, pictures and video by texting SUPIC to 80360 or email us.

Tributes paid to boxer who fought prejudice

The Argus: Melville Smith Melville Smith

TRIBUTES have been paid after a gentleman boxer who fought racial prejudice both in and out of the ring died.

Long-time Patcham resident Melville Smith was a champion boxer in India who was cruelly deprived of his chance to fight for an Olympic gold medal.

His move to Brighton was funded by an act of Christian generosity after he and his family left India almost penniless.

Melville, who has died at age 86, was a famed boxer in India in the 1940s where he lost just one bout in controversial circumstances.

His son Kevin Smith, from Hove, said: “The other guy admitted that he had been defeated but told my father the only way you are going to win was to knock him out and my dad said: ‘Don’t worry in the rematch I will’ and he did.”

Melville was then robbed of the chance to compete in the London Olympics in 1948 partly because his wife Rita was wary of her “pin-up” husband being apart from her and partly because the Indian government refused to pay his costs.

Kevin said: “One of the guys dad beat went to the Olympics and won a medal.

“He always regretted not going to the Olympics.”

In 1961 Melville brought his young family to England, first moving to London and then to Brighton a couple of years later.

Kevin added: “All children think their parents are kind and generous and warm but my dad really was a gentleman. He was still opening the car door for my mum at 87.

“His family was his life. He made sure we were all brought up to be respectful.”

Melville worked as a train guard with British Rail, retiring in 1958, and was supported by his son.

After that he devoted his life to his family and to the church, becoming a regular at St Thomas More Church in Braybon Avenue.

He is survived by four great grandchildren, 11 grandchildren, four daughters, one son and his wife Rita.

His funeral will be at the church at 11.15am on Friday.

Comments (3)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

4:50pm Thu 26 Jun 14

BeeJam says...

He retired from his job at BR in 1958, at age 30? Argus are you sure? Did you mean from boxing? Cos if so that's not what is written....
He retired from his job at BR in 1958, at age 30? Argus are you sure? Did you mean from boxing? Cos if so that's not what is written.... BeeJam
  • Score: -1

5:04pm Thu 26 Jun 14

stevo!! says...

What on Earth is a 'gentleman boxer'?

Is it one who holds the ropes open for his opponent to enter the ring?

What prejudice did he fight against? Did it occur before he moved to an all-white country, or after, and if the latter, why didn't he simply return home?

As for the 1948 Olympics, India sent 70-odd athletes - did they all have to pay their passage to England?

Which championships did he hold in India?

Given that no Indian boxers won a medal in 1948, how can it be claimed that one of his opponents did so?

If he didn't come to England until 1961, how come he retired from British Rail three years earlier?

I'm also amazed that he was too hard-up to move from London to Brighton but was wealthy enough to bring an entire family over from India.

The whole thing looks like a sob-story designed to fill a few pews at the funeral, the details of which were 'kindly' provided.
What on Earth is a 'gentleman boxer'? Is it one who holds the ropes open for his opponent to enter the ring? What prejudice did he fight against? Did it occur before he moved to an all-white country, or after, and if the latter, why didn't he simply return home? As for the 1948 Olympics, India sent 70-odd athletes - did they all have to pay their passage to England? Which championships did he hold in India? Given that no Indian boxers won a medal in 1948, how can it be claimed that one of his opponents did so? If he didn't come to England until 1961, how come he retired from British Rail three years earlier? I'm also amazed that he was too hard-up to move from London to Brighton but was wealthy enough to bring an entire family over from India. The whole thing looks like a sob-story designed to fill a few pews at the funeral, the details of which were 'kindly' provided. stevo!!
  • Score: -3

9:44pm Fri 27 Jun 14

brighton bluenose says...

stevo!! wrote:
What on Earth is a 'gentleman boxer'?

Is it one who holds the ropes open for his opponent to enter the ring?

What prejudice did he fight against? Did it occur before he moved to an all-white country, or after, and if the latter, why didn't he simply return home?

As for the 1948 Olympics, India sent 70-odd athletes - did they all have to pay their passage to England?

Which championships did he hold in India?

Given that no Indian boxers won a medal in 1948, how can it be claimed that one of his opponents did so?

If he didn't come to England until 1961, how come he retired from British Rail three years earlier?

I'm also amazed that he was too hard-up to move from London to Brighton but was wealthy enough to bring an entire family over from India.

The whole thing looks like a sob-story designed to fill a few pews at the funeral, the details of which were 'kindly' provided.
You really are a prize w@nker!!
[quote][p][bold]stevo!![/bold] wrote: What on Earth is a 'gentleman boxer'? Is it one who holds the ropes open for his opponent to enter the ring? What prejudice did he fight against? Did it occur before he moved to an all-white country, or after, and if the latter, why didn't he simply return home? As for the 1948 Olympics, India sent 70-odd athletes - did they all have to pay their passage to England? Which championships did he hold in India? Given that no Indian boxers won a medal in 1948, how can it be claimed that one of his opponents did so? If he didn't come to England until 1961, how come he retired from British Rail three years earlier? I'm also amazed that he was too hard-up to move from London to Brighton but was wealthy enough to bring an entire family over from India. The whole thing looks like a sob-story designed to fill a few pews at the funeral, the details of which were 'kindly' provided.[/p][/quote]You really are a prize w@nker!! brighton bluenose
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree