Remembering a great Mexborough boxer who was a world champion

It was in this month in 1951 that a former British Boxing champion from Mexborough died.

Monday, 12th August 2019, 2:58 pm
Updated Tuesday, 20th August 2019, 7:10 pm
A painting of the legendary local boxer James William ‘Iron’ Hague

It was in April, 1909, that a young William Hague reached the pinnacle of his career, to become the Heavyweight Champion of England.

James William Iron’ Hague had gained his nickname at a young age, due to his ability to withstand pain.

He won the title by knocking out holder Gunner Moir in the first round. His prize money for the victory at London’s National Sporting Club on April 19 in just two minutes 47 seconds was £650.

Farewell Iron Hague; Giles Brearley and Swinton Heritage

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Up to 50,000 people gathered at Mexborough railway station to welcome their young hero home, then paraded him through the streets of the town in a carriage drawn by men.

Hague grew up in Woodruff Row, Mexborough, and went to work first in Denaby Main Colliery on leaving school.

He was only there a short time then was employed at Phoenix Glassworks.

His talent was spotted at a young age, by Jim Watson, the owner of a boxing booth in which his young protege won his first fight. Boxing was gaining popularity and such booths often made the rounds of towns and villages.

Iron Hague memorial stone unveiling in 2003 Graham Schofield (far right) major contributor to the project

Two local landlords added their weight to form a management and promotions team and helped to further his career.

His first professional fight was in 1904 at the Volunteer Drill Hall, Doncaster. He knocked out American Dan Lewis in the third round. Aged 19, he went on to beat Dick Parks to become Pitman Heavyweight Champion in April 1905, then quickly followed up to become the Heavyweight Champion of Yorkshire, beating Albert Rodgers.

Further notable successes ensued before he received the invitation to fight ex-serviceman Gunner Moir. Later, Hague served with the army in WWl and was badly injured in a mustard gas attack. for retro inclusion email: nigel.booth@jpress.co.uk.

'Iron' boarding the train; Giles Brearley and Swinton Heritage
Iron Hague with sparring partner; Giles Brearley and Swinton Heritage