Guests pack a punch at Boxing Club dinner

HAWICK Amateur Boxing Society held its annual dinner and awards ceremony in the Lodge 111 last Friday evening, when the main speakers of what was to be a memorable night were George McNeil and Dougie Young, both of whom have made it to the top in their respective sports.

McNeil had been a king of the track in the world of athletics, while Young had been king of the ring on the boxing scene.

On this occasion, however, they both emerged as kings of the after-dinner speaking circuit with knockout performances.

Young was first to step between the ropes. An Olympic boxer for Great Britain in the 1984 games in Los Angeles, Jedburgh man Dougie began his boxing days with the Hawick Amateur Boxing Club in 1981, and was to go on to be a Scottish heavyweight champion and ABA champion, as well as a Scottish internationalist and an Olympian.

In his speech, he told the hall of his early days with the Hawick club, when the gym was a damp, cold building down a close off the High Street, in which the only running water was the kind that ran down the mouldy walls.

Of how he was a complete and utter novice who hadn’t a clue what was going on until being gradually moulded into a boxer, thanks to the help of great Hawick boxing men such as Jock Thorburn, Davie Fraser and Stevie Lyons.

Very modest about his boxing achievements, Dougie went on to speak of how, through hard work and dedication and a share of the breaks, he won titles and became an internationalist.

Telling tales of his experiences with great humour, Dougie concluded with stories of the fantastic experience of being in the 1984 Olympic Games, which was something that never in his wildest dreams did he think would ever happen to him.

Winner of the 1970 New Year Sprint at the Powderhall Stadium and the Australian equivalent, the Stawell Gift, in 1981, McNeil exploded out of the blocks from the very beginning of his talk and continued at a whirlwind pace throughout.

George, who also played professional football for Hibs, Morton and Stirling Albion, had many tales to tell of what has been a colourful life.

From his Tranent upbringing, to athletics and football stories, to times in America and Australia, and just life itself, George conjured up great hilarity and laughs galore. Indeed, he could well have a career on the stage as a comedian.

A top-notch sprinter, George, who was Olympic standard, but was never considered for selection as he was classed as a professional due to having ran on the games circuit, also spoke of his connections with Hawick through his running days, and ended in saying that Hawick and the Borders were the strongholds of open athletics, and that he felt that the New Year Sprint should be taken away from a racecourse in Musselburgh and staged somewhere in the Borders.

Full report and more photographs in the paper.