Old sparring partners reunited

AFTER a bout of absence two old sparring partners are back in touch with each other today. Geoff Sparrow, 71, of Clapgate Lane, Ipswich, is reunited with his old boxing pal, Ron Clarke, more than 50 years since wishing him farewell on leaving the army.

AFTER a bout of absence two old sparring partners are back in touch with each other today.

Geoff Sparrow, 71, of Clapgate Lane, Ipswich, is reunited with his old boxing pal, Ron Clarke, more than 50 years since wishing him farewell on leaving the army.

The retired plasterer came across a reunion site in a national newspaper and sent in an email hoping to track down his old pal. He knew Mr Clarke had returned to his hometown of Sutton Coldfield at the end of their National Service in 1952, but had no more information to go on.

The message reached its intended target via one of his friends and the old comrades made contact around six months later and arranged to meet up.


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Mr Sparrow said: "It felt a little strange when we met up, as if we had seen each other only a few months ago. I had a picture in my mind of what he would look like and I wasn't far off."

The pair met for a drink in Shotley and spent a couple of days reminiscing over old photographs of their army days and the years since.

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Both men were keen boxers in the army and their friendship was built around the ring.

The two met when they were called up for their two years' National Service in 1950. After sharing the same hut throughout their basic training in the Royal Engineers, they were posted to Germany and worked together rebuilding the country's roads and bridges.

During their service Mr Clarke completed a course in physical training and became an instructor, as well as fighting in the boxing team.

Mr Sparrow added: "We did a lot of training together and Ron was a very good boxer. I remember feeling very disappointed at missing out in British Army of the Rhine light middleweight championship. I had injured my finger in training and Ron went on to take the title."

So was a grudge match on the cards? Mr Sparrow said: "We didn't put our fighting gloves on as we are too old for that now. Besides I have had a hip replacement and we are both keen golfers now.

Mr Sparrow, who was Suffolk heavyweight champion in 1957 and 1958, used to box in Ipswich at Arcade Street with the likes of Suffolk champion Mervyn Dweyre and Star columnist Bob Shelley.

N Visit the Star's own Finding Friends web page on our site at www.eveningstar.co.uk

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