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Tag Archives: East End

  • East End Born and Bled: The Remarkable Story of London Boxing by Jeff Jones

    Ninety years ago, on 18th February 1930, twenty-one-year-old Jack Berg, known as Jack ‘Kid’ Berg, stepped into the Royal Albert Hall boxing ring to face the American world champion, Mushy Callahan for the light welterweight boxing title. Fifteen rounds of tremendous fighting later and the title was his.

    A famous victory for Berg but it was more than just that. Berg was following in footsteps of another great East End Jewish boxer Ted ‘Kid’ Lewis who was also a world boxing champion, fifteen years previously.

    Playboy boxer Jack ‘Kid’ Berg. (© PA Images, East End Born and Bled, Amberley Publishing)

    Jack Berg was born Judah Bergman into a large Jewish family in Whitechapel, deep in London’s East End in 1909. That victory, twenty-one years later, and several more that followed cemented the reputation of not only Britain’s Jewish boxers but that of East End boxing in particular.

    Six months later, in New York, one Eligio Sardinãs Montalvo, walked purposely from his dressing room at the Polo Grounds venue, continuing the path to fame and fortune. ‘Kid Chocolate’ as he was known, came with a burgeoning reputation. The brilliant American based Cuban fighter entered the ring at the Polo Grounds, unbeaten in fifty-six fights and was considered the best ‘pound for pound’ boxer in the World at that time.

    Kid Chocolate was a firm favourite given the way he had despatched his previous opponents and his eyes were firmly fixed on the $66,000 dollar purse that was up for grabs.  An absolute fortune, one of the largest purses for a non-title fight to date. Sitting quietly in the opposite corner was Jack ‘Kid’ Berg. A win for Kid Chocolate against Berg would set up a world title fight later in the year. Neither boxer had fought for such a huge sum. Chocolate was there for both the win and the money.

    In New York. Jack Berg (white slacks) with the great Ted ‘Kid’ Lewis (far left). (East End Born and Bled, Amberley Publishing)

    Over ten blistering rounds of boxing, Berg’s East End grit and determination proved to be the deciding factor and it produced a narrow win.  One of the greatest wins by a British boxer on American soil. That victory, more than most, ensured that the world became aware of the East London conveyer belt that was rolling off great boxers. It continued to do so.

    For Jewish boxing, Berg was considered to be the last of the great East End Jewish boxers in a line that stretched back well over one hundred and twenty years to Daniel Mendoza, the most famous Jewish East End bare knuckled boxer and a true Legend of the sport.

    East London has produced well over 300 British, Commonwealth, European and World professional champions to date. The names that claim East End heritage and a place in British boxing’s hall of fame include, Bombardier Billy Wells, the truly great Ted ‘Kid’ Lewis, Pat O’keeffe, Teddy Baldock, The Corbett brothers, Sammy McCarthy, Terry Spinks, Billy Walker, John H Stracey, Charlie Magri, Terry Marsh, Kevin Lear and Lennox Lewis to name just a few *gloved” champions. There were many more, great bare-knuckled champions.

    Its amateur boxers are just as impressive, boasting several Olympic/Commonwealth gold medal winners. East London was full of boys boxing clubs that produced these champions.  The list of East London boxers goes on and on, as does its boxing legacy. Their stories are inextricably linked with the area into which they were born and bred. The East End.

    Jeff Jones's book East End Born and Bled: The Remarkable Story of London Boxing is available for purchase now.

  • East End Jewish Cemeteries by Louis Berk

    East End Jewish Cemeteries 001 Cover _P2M1320-Edit_s (East End Jewish Cemeteries, Amberley Publishing)

    An Oasis in Whitechapel

     

    I am a secondary school teacher, and since 2004, I have worked at a school in Brady Street, in the heart of Whitechapel. I did not realise until I was looking out of a second story window one day that my school adjoins one of the oldest Jewish Cemeteries in the UK.

    Brady Street cemetery was founded in 1761, and closed almost 100 years later in 1858 when the grounds became full-up.

    Having no connection to the cemetery, I thought it unlikely I would ever see inside. Then, one day, as I was in school, I heard the sounds of activity as groundsmen were carrying out maintenance, and they kindly allowed me to take a look around.

     

     

    East End Jewish Cemeteries 006 Late Summer 02 L1025403-Edit_s (East End Jewish Cemeteries, Amberley Publishing)

    The Idea

    Once inside the walls it was as though I had been transported to a forest, as I was surrounded by trees, shrubs and at one point, an inquisitive fox that trotted past me down a path. An idea formed in my mind: it would be wonderful to capture this hidden oasis in photographs, as a record of an interesting environment, and to make it visible to others.

    I was fortunate that when I approached the owners of the cemetery, The United Synagogue of Great Britain, they readily agreed to my request. They even made it possible for me to have access to the cemetery whenever I wanted.

     

     

     

    East End Jewish Cemeteries 003a_DoublePage P0Q0930-Edit (East End Jewish Cemeteries, Amberley Publishing)

    Early Mornings and Late Evenings

    Undertaking a long-term project right next door to where I worked allowed me to photograph very early in the morning. During the winter months, this was before and during dawn, and also at sunset.

    In the summer it allowed me to capture the sometimes delicate early morning sunlight before the day became bleached out with too much sun.

     

     

     

     

    East End Jewish Cemeteries 055 Winter 18 Scan-120211-0007_s (East End Jewish Cemeteries, Amberley Publishing)

    Waiting for snow

    I began the project in July 2011, with the objective of recording a year in the life of the cemetery. By the same time in 2012, I had a lot of material to work with, but I was missing one important element: snow. The winters at the start of this decade were surprisingly mild, and I had to wait until 2013 for a reasonable covering.

    This was no real hardship, as I enjoyed my time alone in the quiet solitude of the cemetery, and continued to visit and take photographs. I also chose to work mainly with medium format film cameras. This requires considerably more concentration than working with digital cameras. It is a slow and careful process. This entirely matched the ambience of my surroundings.

     

     

    East End Jewish Cemeteries 102 Alderney Road 06 10 Scan-120908-0005-Edit_s (East End Jewish Cemeteries, Amberley Publishing)

    Alderney Road

    At the end of the second year I showed my work to the owners, who asked me if I would also photograph in Alderney Road Cemetery, in nearby Stepney Green. This is an even older cemetery than Brady Street, established in 1696, very close to the time that Jews began to settle in the UK.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    East End Jewish Cemeteries 002 Frontpiece _1040603-Edit_s (East End Jewish Cemeteries, Amberley Publishing)

    East End Jewish Cemeteries: Brady Street and Alderney Road

    In 2016, I approached Amberley Books with a number of ideas for titles, and they were immediately enthusiastic about a book containing my photographs of Brady Street and Alderney Road.

    The book contains 96 pages, mostly filled with photographs, and also an introduction to the cemetery by the recognised authority on its history, Rachel Kolsky, who is an award winning London Blue Badge guide and author.

    9781445662909

    Louis Berk's new book East End Jewish Cemeteries is available for purchase now.

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