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Homes In England Converted Into Coaching Camps

INSTIL the young mind with correct procedure in physicl recreation and the foundations for a healthy life and better sporting prowess have been laid. It is to this end that some of England's stately homes have been converted into well-equipped venues for holidays with coaching and instructional courses.

The last few years have seen the development of recreational centres all over Britain, where young people can enjoy both their holidays and export coaching in their favourite sport.


The Central Council of Physical Recreation, which is responsible for the scheme, makes it clear, however, that sporting supremacy is not its prime objective, but only incidental. Its work is to encourage everyone into thoughts of, what its president The Duke of Edinburgh calls, "active leisure", He did in fact choose "Active Leisure" as the title of his broadcast last year. Holidays with coaching is but one aspect of the work of the C.C.P.R., but it is an important one which grows in popularity each year. These holidays are for young men and women over 17 who either wish to learn a new sports activity or to improve in one in which they already have some experience. The 1957 programme is most ambitious. It covers a diversity of interests from archery to wrestling. some 33 different sports or recreations are catered for. Young people can run, jump, throw, swim, sail or ride. They can play team games or indulge in such recreations as rock climbing, fly fishing and ball-room dancing--and do so with qualified instruction. A few hours each day are devoted to this aspect of the holiday and those attending are expected to take full advantage of the group-coaching provided. In this the national controlling bodies of various sports are giving full co-operation to assure the quality and authority of the coaching. Since 1946 Bisham abbey has been one of the recreational centres. This lovely old mansion dates back to the 12th century and was originally a house of the Knights Templar. It is most attractively situated on the banks of the river Thames between Marlow and Maidenhead among some of the most beautiful scenery in England. With the river so ideally available, sailing, rowing, canoeing, punting and swimming are among the popular sports indulged in. But there are also excellent facilities for Association and Rugby football, hockey, cricket, and athletics as well as tennis, basketball and netball, while an adjacent golf course is also available. It is a most delightful spot for a sporting holiday. So, too, is Lillishall Hall, in the English country of Shropshire, a former home of the Duke of Sutherland. This stately centre was officially opened in 1951 by Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II). Since then considerable rebuilding and extensions have made it one of the finest in the world. Indeed, Lillishall is a name well known in all sporting circles. The extensive and exceptionally beautiful grounds with lawns, park and woodland provide a wonderful setting for recreative activity. The sporting facilities have been blended into this. A grass training track winds attractively among the trees and shrubs. One open space has been converted into a ten acre playing field with pitches for football, cricket, hockey, lacrosse and so on, all provided for from a well equipped pavilion. During the summer, lectures and instructional talks are often given out of doors under the shade of lovely old trees and against a background of colourful shrubs and flower-beds, while peacocks strut around to add piquancy to the scene. There are halls for such activities as dancing, gymnastics, wrestling, judo, weight-lifting and boxing, including ore set aside for indoor cricket. And to these has recently been added the King George VI Hall, in memory of the late King. Britain generally lacks good indoor facilities for sport training and recreation and this building has set a standard for the future. An area of 120ft, square is surmounted by a specially designed non-glare double glass roof to provide a spacious and well lit arena in which there is an unobstructed playing area for two full-size tennis courts.


King George VI was intensely interested in the sporting activities of youth and in relation to this his memory has been further perpetuated by the C.C.P.R. at their third centre in England. the rugged mountain country of North Wales provide the environment for this centre--Plas-y-Brenin, meaning the King's house-- which has been established at the former Royal Hotel, Capel Curig. Its ideal situation in the heart of Snowdonia National Park Makes it the perfect centre for all forms of mountain activity. There once can learn and enjoy mountain and hill walking, rock climbing, camping and canoeing. To these are shortly being added pony trekking and sailing to give the adventurous a grand outlet for their type of sporting exercise.


Jinx Haunts Middle-Weight Division-Death's Favourites

THE jinx which has haunted the middle weight division for several years struck again. One of the latest to meet a tragic end is Jimmy Elliott, of South Africa, who was his country's champion in this category four years ago. There have been more tragedies in the middle weight division than in any other. Some of the world's greatest boxers have met with sudden death or permanent disablement after winning honours in this weight class. It was only a year or two back that Luc Van Dam, the greatest middleweight the Netherlands have ever produced, was involved in a car crash which has left him a cripple, and it is possible that he will be permanently disabled.


But for a clause in his contract Jock McAvoy would have won a world title on his American tour, when he fought Babe Risko, the world's champion. Risko's title was not at stake. It was arranged that McAvoy should enter the ring over the weight limit for that class. It was fortunate for Risko that this was so, for Mcavoy won on a knock-out in the first round after having Risko down on canvas six times in all. After retiring in 1945 McAvoy was stricken by the dreaded disease which has left him paralysed from the waist downward. Five years ago one of the greatest boxers Australia has ever produced, Dave Dands, was killed in an accident when the lorry he was driving turned over. Sands, and aboriginal from New South Wales held the middle-weight, light-heavy-weight and heavy-weight titles of his own country and the British Empire middleweight crown. Had Sands Fought more frequently in British and American rings he would without doubt have won a world's title. He suffered a great deal from inferiority complex, hated big cities and was reluctant to leave his native land. He turned down an offer of four thousand pounds to defend his Empire crown against Randy Turpin in London in the Summer of 1951, although the prize was a world title fight for the winner against Sugar Ray Robinson. As Sands declined. Turpin was given a crack at Robinson's title and won it. The passing of Sands at only twenty-six was a grave loss to world boxing.


For tragedy the plane crash which killed Marcel Cerdan was the most shocking catastrophe of all. The spectacular Moroccan, an idol throughout the French Empire and a popular attraction in Europe and the United States, was on his way to New York and a chance to regain the world middleweight title he had lost to Jake La-Motta in Detroit a few months before. Apparently off its course as a result of rain and fog, the giant Constellation, with forty-seven passengers and crew members aboard, ripped into a mountain-side in the Azores and exploded in flames. There were no survivors. One of boxing's greatest champions, the middleweight Harry Greb, the American who held the championship from 1923 to 1926 and had taken part in nearly three hundred fights in fourteen years of busy campaigning, met his end on the operating table.


After losing a championship bout to Tiger Flowers on August 19, 1926, in New York, Greb was advised by doctors to have an operation on his left eye. He then decided to have a double job done and get his bettered nose straightened out at the same time. The operation was performed, but haemorrhages developed, and on October 22, 1926, only three months after his meeting with Flowers, Greb died. Greb's successor, Tiger Flowers, also met a sudden death on the operating table. He started professional boxing in 1918. Before each contest in Georgia Deacon, as Flowers was known, would recite to himself the opening paragraph of the Psalm which reads: "Blessed be the Lord my strength, which teacheth my hands to war and my fingers to fight." Flowers was a pillar of strength of the Methodist church in which he was a steward. He was permitted to remain a church member inspite of becoming a pugilist. "I am a professional fighter," was his argument to the church wardens, "because I believe God meant me to be what I am. It is no wrong, the Bible tells me, for a man to fight for his livelihood, and it is right to pray for what you fight for." Tiger Flowers took part in a hundred and fifty contests, losing only thirteen. His last bout was on November 12,1927, when he beat a heavyweight opponent. Four days later he was dead. He had entered for what was believed to be a simple eye operation but he died from the effects of it on November 16, 1927. Another middle weight champion had come to a sudden end.

NATIONAL SPORTS (continued on page 40)

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