It's a knock-out bash as ex-fighter Harry hits 100

Harry Brisland with sons Michael and Peter, also former boxers.

Harry Brisland celebrates his 100th birthday with members of his family.

Harry, right, boxing aboard RMS Berengaria.

Harry as a young man.

First published in News Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Political reporter

A MEMBER of Southampton’s “famous fighting family” has celebrated being 100 not out.

Former boxer Harry Brisland marked his 100th birthday with a party where he was surrounded by dozens of family members.

And Harry, from Swaythling, was presented with a special boxing ring cake to commemorate his achievements in the ring.

Born in Southampton and raised in Northam, apart from a couple of years in Liverpool, his sporting exploits started when he was young.

He was wicketkeeper for the Northam Boy’s Cricket Club, who won their league without losing a single match.

At 14 he left school and became a bellboy aboard the cruise liners RMS Majestic and RMS Berengaria.

On one of his 74 Atlantic crossings he was bellboy to Britain’s first Labour Prime Minister, Ramsay MacDonald.

With his father, also called Harry, a professional boxer and Hampshire champion who used to fight all-comers in Southampton’s old fairground, it was perhaps inevitable that Harry would also enter the ring.

He started his boxing career on board the Berengaria, then worked in a timber yard, and married Winifred Ridout in 1935.

They had six children, and were married for 61 years until Winifred’s death at the age of 89.

He continued his boxing career and fought for eight years, and he was described on promotional posters as “one of the famous fighting family” who would “thrill you from gong to gong”.

His elder brother John also followed in their father’s footsteps and boxed.

Even though Harry hung up his gloves in 1939, some of his children took up the sport, with Michael becoming British youth champion, Harry becoming RAF featherweight champion and Peter becoming Southern Counties champion.

Harry celebrated his 100th birthday surrounded by some of his six children, seven grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren and eight great-great-grandchildren at the Fleming Arms in Swaythling.

His youngest son David said: “It’s a shame that most if not all of his generation of workmates, neighbours and friends have already passed on, but I suspect some of their offspring will remember this generous man with a twinkle in his eye who answers to the name of Harry.”

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