“We didn’t have a gym. We had a room above a fruit shop, one punch bag, no toilet, no spit bucket, and I won the British, Commonwealth, and IBF world cruiserweight titles. The ‘Rocky’ story is one of riches to riches compared to mine!”
Glenn McCrory’s boxing career was anything but smooth sailing, but he admits that being steeped in a boxing family certainly rubbed off on him. “My granddad was a champion in the British army and my granddad’s younger brother, Jim Palmer, the name he fought under, became a pretty prolific featherweight. My dad also did a bit in the army.
“Up in the North East [of England], it was always, football, football, football. Growing up around Irish catholic schools, my hero was always George Best, but then someone came along who blew Bestie out of the water. That was Muhammad Ali.
“My first boxing recollection was Ali versus Foreman, the ‘Rumble in the Jungle.’ This man [Ali] was supposed to get beaten, hammered, and not only did he win, but he also picked the round. For a kid, it was unbelievable to watch. Fascinating. I used to cut up pictures of Ali and put them on my wall, and I got my mum to stitch ‘Bear Hunting’ on the back of a second-hand Wrangler jacket that I had. I became totally Muhammad Ali crazy.”
McCrory reflected upon his amateur career with fond memories. “I had sixty-four fights, fifty-six wins. I became Junior ABA [Amateur Boxing Association] champion at 74 kilograms, at the age of sixteen and then at seventeen I boxed for young England, alongside Chris Pyatt, Errol Christie, and Duke McKenzie. What a great squad that was.”
On February 6, 1984, he made his professional debut, knocking out Barry Ellis in the first round. “I was absolutely scared to death against Ellis and thought I was going to have the shortest career in history. I think fear just made me attack him nonstop and I had him out of there in ninety seconds. I attracted the national papers and was on the back page of the Sun newspaper, with an article from Colin Hart. The headline was, ‘The White Bruno’ and it mentioned that I had the sweetest left hook since Henry Cooper.
“Knocking Ellis out though was probably the biggest mistake I made. My amateur trainer got me in with Doug Bidwell, and I thought we’d done well to carry on with Alan Minter’s manager and trainer, but little did I know that Doug had never trained anyone in his life. Bobby Neill trained Minter.
“So when I fought Ellis, he probably took a look at me and thought, ‘Here we go. The next big heavyweight.’ The last fight I had as an amateur was at twelve-stone-six-pounds, boxing against the United States navy. Ellis outweighed me by seventeen pounds, whereas I was barely touching the cruiserweight limit. I should have turned pro at light-heavy and moved up to cruiser after.”