Special tribute will be paid this week to a brilliant Harborough boxer

British and European champion Jack Gardner is being honoured by Leicestershire County Council with a coveted Green Plaque

Tuesday, 27th July 2021, 9:43 am
Updated Tuesday, 27th July 2021, 9:44 am
Jack Gardner

A special heartwarming tribute is to be paid to a brilliant Market Harborough boxer in his proud hometown on Thursday (July 29).

British and European champion Jack Gardner is being honoured by Leicestershire County Council with a coveted Green Plaque.

Jack, who also fought for Great Britain at the totemic London Olympics in 1948, grew up in Market Harborough - and he died here too after retiring to become a farmer.

Jack Gardner with the then Princess Elizabeth

The town’s sporting legend was nominated for the prestigious award by John Tillotson, chairman of Market Harborough Civic Society.

"Jack's already honoured with a bench outside the old Grammar School and at the leisure centre - but we didn't think that sufficiently recognised his achievements,” said John.

"People remember Jack - I certainly knew him in his role as a gentleman farmer.

“He was a grand chap and certainly a worthy recipient of the award."

Jack’s daughter Jackalyn Bradford-Turner, who also lives in Market Harborough, said she is “extremely proud and delighted” by the move.

“My father would take it as a huge compliment that more than 70 years after he was boxing, and more than 40 years after he died, that he's still remembered and that people wanted to honour him in this way,” said Jackalyn.

“I would like to thank everyone who has worked so hard to make this honour possible, particularly Market Harborough Civic Society and Leicestershire County Council.

“It is a wonderful tribute to my father.”

Born in 1926, Jack launched his explosive boxing career as a teak-tough soldier in the army’s elite Grenadier Guards.

The fantastic fighter won a heavyweight title as well as titles in the same weight for both the Army and the Imperial Services.

Jack turned professional in December 1948 – and in his first novice tournament he won all his fights with first round knock outs as he swept all before him.

He was crowned British champion in November 1950 and as European champion 12 months later before hanging up his gloves in 1952 after a number of defeats.

Jack made a brief comeback in 1953 with five straight victories, but injury meant he wasn't able to regain his British title.

He quit the ring aged 29 with a record of 28 wins - 23 by KO - and six losses.

Jack retired to run his farm in Market Harborough with his new wife Grace and died in 1978 aged just 52 of a brain tumour.

His ashes are scattered beneath a Grenadier apple tree at his beloved Ash Tree Farm, between Market Harborough and The Langtons.

Part of the farm is still run by his son Jim Gardner.

A Green Plaque will be unveiled on the side wall of Market Harborough Building Society, which overlooks the Memorial Gardens, formerly a working men's club where Jack sparred, on Thursday.

Cllr Dan Harrison, the county council’s chairman, said: "Jack was a hugely-talented boxer, who won some of the biggest titles available in his sport.

“As a former British judo international, I know very well the rigours he would have gone through - and the training he must have done - to achieve such an outstanding professional career.

“To have achieved what he did was phenomenal.

“I am proud and delighted to be able to unveil this Green Plaque in his honour.”

More information on the Green Plaque scheme can be found by visiting www.leicestershire.gov.uk/greenplaques