John McDermott MBE

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John McDermott MBE

With many thanks to Bernard Rea

John McDermott MBEShortly after publishing the news that trainer John McDermott had been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, we received an email from an old friend of John’s, ex-professional boxer Bernard Rea who now lives in Canada.

“When I read your information on the MBE bestowed on John I was overjoyed,” wrote Bernard. “It couldn’t happen to a nicer or more dedicated person in the sport of boxing. John McDermott was an excellent boxer and always the perfect gentleman in a time when the sport was much tougher and classier than today.”

Bernard then wrote again about John‘s past and talked about boxing at the time they both fought out of the N.B. Loco Amateur Boxing Club in Springburn, Glasgow. It made fascinating reading and serves as a fitting tribute to John McDermott MBE.

Over to Bernard:

I first met John McDermott on a Camping Holiday in Kingsdown, Kent, when we were both in the Boy Scouts. John’s uncle, Terry McDermott, who was also a School Teacher, was one of the Boy Scout Leaders and another real gem of a person.

Then I met John again as a member of the North British Loco Amateur Boxing Club in Springburn, Glasgow. John was also a member and a real classy boxer too.

The N.B. was a tremendous venue for boxing shows every Thursday night during the amateur boxing season. John was a regular on these shows along with guys like the McMillan brothers, Alex, Donald and John.

At that time even John “Cowboy” McCormack was a member of the N.B. as it was affectionately known.

When the N.B. closed its doors we all went our separate ways and ended up in different clubs around Glasgow and the surrounding areas but always remained good friends. Boxing was a fantastic sport for meetings all kinds of people and making great and lasting friendships.

John, of course, went on to eventually win the Western Districts, the Scottish Amateur Boxing Association and the British Amateur Boxing Association Titles at Featherweight.

Following those victories John went to the Commonwealth Games in Perth, Australia, to win a Gold Medal at the same weight.

I had taken another path and eventually moved to Jersey, Channel Islands, where, in 1961, I was awarded the Amateur Boxing, Middleweight Title. I then went on to represent Jersey in the English Southern Districts Championships held at Nine Elms Baths, Battersea, and won the Light Middleweight Crown.

Following the South West’s, I went to the Royal Albert Hall and won the London Districts A.B. Lt. Middleweight Title.

After winning the London’s, I then went to Wembley for the A.B.A. Finals and, unfortunately, lost to another great Amateur Boxer in his time, Bobby Keddie in the semi’s.

When I returned to Jersey, following the A.B.A.’s, I was also chosen to represent them in the same Commonwealth Games attended by John. However, being rather impatient and somewhat impetuous I chose to turn professional and, in retrospect to my regret, did not attend the Games.

John McDermott went to those Games, against great odds to overcome the Scottish Selectors, and I am sorry I wasn’t there to cheer him on in person.

John McDermott is a real life Champion. Thank God there are people like him who are willing to dedicate their time and patience for the good of youth and eventual benefit of our communities.

By the way, John is also the trainer and coach of another handy young boxer, Ross Naismith, who won the Western Districts A.B. Title at Welterweight, and is also a relative of my wife. I would like to think he is still training with John and still doing well.

Thanks again to Bernard for the above. It would be great to hear from others with tributes and memories of John for us to add to this page.

Submitted by M & D Reilley


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Blantyre, Lanarkshire, Scotland

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