School Stories: An End to Boxing at Garendon

4 April 2022

The following encounter took place in the gymnasium at Garendon Secondary Modern School Loughborough in 1957. The class designated 3B1 consisted of about 34 boys in their third year at the school. It had a bit of a reputation, as they say!

The master in charge of the P.E. lesson explained that school policy had been revised this term, and that Boxing was now to be included as part of our sports training. The class was divided up into suitable pairs, and I was matched up with a boy commonly known as Mau-Mau because of his supposed Kenyan background.

We stood and looked at each other and neither threw a punch; the class started to heckle.

The master said, “Hit him,” and gave me a small push in the back. Mau- Mau now looked small and a bit worried. I decided to say NO.

The master said “Don’t tell me NO boy! Hit him now!” I said “NO” for a second time, adding a comment about not wanting to kill him.

The master said, “I won’t let anything like that happen; now hit him.” I said “NO” for the third time and justified my refusal by making the point that boys found fighting in the playground were sent to the headmaster and caned.

The entire class fell silent and the atmosphere could have been cut with a knife.  Showdown point!

Master said, “I will put you in special detention!” (Headmaster-administered caning anticipated). Something deep inside me found the courage to say, “Fine, I will make the same point to the Headmaster; he has caned two of us for fighting already this week.”

The master took the boxing gloves from my hands saying, “Go and sit on the bench under the window.”

“Yes, sir” I said, and made my way to the bench.  No more was said about the incident, and my credibility with the class went (unexpectedly) up.

Boxing, as a sport, was stopped at Garendon by the end of the following week.

David Taylor