Sunderland boxing family’s history packs a punch

PROUD HISTORY: Brothers David and Frank Gill have researched a wealth of material about their boxing ancestors. Below, from top, Mickey O'Neill, Frankie Gill and Paddy Gill.
PROUD HISTORY: Brothers David and Frank Gill have researched a wealth of material about their boxing ancestors. Below, from top, Mickey O'Neill, Frankie Gill and Paddy Gill.
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TWO brothers have joined forces to create a record of their family’s illustrious boxing history.

Frank and David Gill have put together a scrapbook about their ancestors’ exploits in the ring.

Micky O'Neill

Micky O'Neill

The pair, of Silksworth, have spent years collating information and pictures for the piece and now hope it can be published in a book.

The lads’ uncles Frank, Mickey and Paddy, who all served in the Forces, boxed as far back as the 1920s at venues across Britain.

All three grew up in the family’s home in William Street, in Sunderland city centre.

Mickey and Paddy both went into the army, while Frank went into the navy, eventually fighting in the Spanish Civil War, where he unfortunately suffered shellshock, which meant he was looked after at Cherry Knowle Hospital, in Ryhope.

Frankie Gill

Frankie Gill

The men fought under the name Gill, although Mickey often had the surname O’Neill.

“It’s something we’ve wanted to do for a while and it’s taken us years, maybe even longer, to get everything together,” said Frank, 75, at his Silksworth home.

“It’s not just about boxing, it’s about the history of Sunderland and it’s great reading.

“I’ve got records of all the fights they had, letters they sent back and pictures as well.

Paddy Gill

Paddy Gill

“Boxers seem to fight once every four years now, but my uncles would fight twice a week sometimes.”

Michael died in 1950, Frank in 1973 and Paddy in 1993.

It was five years ago that Frank and Charlie decided to pool their efforts and find as much information on their uncles’ sporting exploits as they could.

“We got in touch with Miles Thompson who has provided a lot of boxing memorabilia about them,” added Frank, who worked as a labourer and driver before retirement.

“We always remember growing up seeing their silverware at my grandma’s house.

“It’s a surprise we never went into boxing ourselves, but that’s just one of those things.”

The brothers are now hoping that a book could be published.

“I definitely think it’s worth someone taking a look at,” added Frank.

“We’d really like to get it published.”

Those interested in helping publish the book should call Frank on 07749531571.