Lumba and Mike

January 22, 2012


The winning of trophies and championships was important to the Unit. Every encouragement was given to boys who took part in sports, often to the disgust of non-participating boys and instructors, and sometimes to the detriment of the education and military training of the athletes involved.

The boxing team once spent a whole term devoted purely to boxing training and were excused all educational classes. We had specialised rations, including gammon steaks and pints of cold milk. We were exempted parades and would even go back to bed after early morning training.

Due to the way in which our treatment differed, from that of the non-athletic boy soldier, we considered ourselves elitist. We were very macho in the boxing team. I suppose to the others we were unpleasant and arrogant s.o.b.s. It was a closely knit entity and, with one or two exceptions, we got on very well together.

I had two particular friends; one called Pete Roberts, whose nickname was Lumba, and Mike Scott, who played the bagpipes. In keeping with our image of ourselves we had a series of games and tricks that we used to play on each other. One, in particular, consisted of, while in mid- conversation with another boxer, without warning or interruption, throwing a punch towards his chin, stopping millimetres short of the target. If the other did not flinch and carried on as though nothing had happened he won that round. Some were better than others, while one or two did not have the correct reactions.

Once in the gymnasium, on the day of an important match against the Royal Engineer Boys, I tried it with Lumba – and came a cropper! As I threw my dummy punch towards his chin he threw a perfectly composed and solid right hand which, instead of stopping short, thudded into my eye. It swelled up immediately. Lumba panicked as he realised what he had done and I took off after him. We tore round the boxing ring, already built for the fights that evening, and as we skidded round one corner of the construction, Lumba grabbed the tubular metal assembly of the stool to keep his balance and the edge of the contraption slammed into my other eye. This swelled up as quickly as the first had done. I looked like a Panda.

At that moment Staff Sergeant Burdett our coach showed up before further mayhem could take place. He exploded when he saw my injuries. It was obvious that I would not pass the medical for the fights. Fortunately, the weigh-ins and medical were separate activities. I went for the weigh in and Mike, who was reserve middleweight, volunteered to go in my place for the medical. As luck would have it, the Medical Officer suspected nothing or, if he did, decided to let it pass.

I won my match that evening, due in no small way I‘m convinced, to my opponent being intimidated and believing, from the extent of my facial injuries, that if I was in the ring despite the bruises, I must be unstoppable.

One Response to “Lumba and Mike”

  1. Gary Dennett Says:

    You the man!


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