FAMILY and friends have said a final goodbye to a colliery community’s boxing hero after he died at the age of 97.
William “Chick” Allen became a legend in the sport during the height of the Great Depression, winning 53 fights, drawing six and being defeated just six times.
Reports detail how the Seaham champ was never knocked out or stopped, with four of his losses due to disqualification for low blows or head butts, gaining him a reputation as a “ferocious body puncher”.
He drew with Jack Dibbs, then the Pitman’s Champion of County Durham, and Northumberland’s equivalent Tommy O’Keefe and it is said he could have unofficially claimed to be the title holder for the region before his 19th birthday.
The few low points of his sporting career came as he fought with a ruptured appendix in November 1933, which resulted in one of the losses and a draw.
On another two occasions, two days after an operation, he had two more draws during fights likely to have been staged as he needed money.
Chick had to retire at 19 because of problems with his eyesight. It is not known if they were connected to his boxing.
Although he never fought in a professional match again he did take part in boxing exhibition bouts in the U.S. during the Second World War when he served with the Navy Fleet Air Arm on the Atlantic Convoys.
Chick went on to work as a bricklayer at Seaham Colliery.
After his retirement from the pit he became a well-known face around New Seaham, where he lived until he moved into Lindisfare House. he spent a decade as a pools collector for Littlewoods.
He was also a regular customer of the Mill Inn, where he used to call in for a drink until he reached 90.
Despite his fighter’s reputation, Chick was known by his family for being kind and loving.
His daughter Christina Ruffet said: “He was a very loving dad and a modest man.”
Chick, who was widowed when his wife Nora died aged 58, also leaves other children Bill, Michael, Theresa, Christina and Kathleen, 13 grandchildren and 25 great-grandchildren.
His funeral service was held at St Cuthbert’s RC Church, in Mill Road, New Seaham, on Friday.