British boxing legend who fought Rocky Marciano was landlord of a pub in Hastings Old Town

Don Cockell SUS-180910-093356001
Don Cockell SUS-180910-093356001

British boxing legend Don Cockell best remembered for his fight against Rocky Marciano was landlord of the Jenny Lind pub in the Old Town it was revealed this week.

Information came to light after Ben Fenton posed a question of the Hastings Old Town Appreciation Group Facebook site, asking if anyone had memories of Don.

A number of people responded. Rod Harffey confirmed: “He was landlord of the Jenny Lind in the 1960’s. Tim Bowdler said: “He was landlord of the Jenny Lind and had his boxing belt above the till in the front bar.”

Pamela Jackson said: “He one time stayed in my parent’s neighbours house in Duke Road, St Leonards, which was sadly pulled down.”

It is thought that Don also lived in Ninfield for a time. Toby Pont said: “He lived in Potmans Lane at Lunsford Cross and I was at school, in Ninfield, with his daughter Linda in the 1960’s.

Vic Glazier said: “I think he had a lorry and worked out of the Lignacite block plant at Ninfield for a while.”

Colin Rhodes said: “Don used to present boxing prizes at local events and presented one to my brother Graham Rhodes at a church hall in Wishing Tree Road in 1959.

Don fought for most of his career as a light-heavyweight and became the British and European champion at that weight. Later in his career he moved up to heavyweight and held the British and Commonwealth heavyweight titles.

He is best remembered for fighting against Rocky Marciano for the world heavyweight championship. Cockell defeated a number of top heavyweights in his career, including Roland La Starza, Harry Matthews (twice), Tommy Farr, Freddie Beshore, Johnny Arthur, Johnny Williams and Uber Bacilieri.

He was a blacksmith by trade, and as a result developed a strong physique. He began boxing in fairground booths and soon rose through the amateur ranks until turning professional in 1946.

After leaving Hastings Don returned to London in 1975, where he worked as a craftsman blacksmith in the permanent way machine shops at the London Underground Lillie Bridge Depot in Fulham. His last job was as an emergency maintenance man.

Donald John Cockell was born on September 22 1928 in Balham, London and died in London in July 1983 aged 54.

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