Brian Curvis will go down in history as one of Wales's
The welterweight won British and Commonwealth titles and
notched 37 victories in a 41-fight career.
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Yet it is for a heroic defeat that he may forever be
The Swansea-born fighter had won his first 13 fights as a
professional when the chance came for him to fight in front of
his hometown fans for the Commonwealth welterweight title.
It was May 9, 1960, at Vetch Field, and Australian George
Barnes was in the opposite corner.
A campaigner with an anaesthetising punch, Curvis had
stopped nine of his previous opponents but he could not put
away the durable New South Walian.
In a memorable battle over 15 rounds, refereed by Jack Hart,
southpaw Curvis nonetheless came through to take a clear points
Later that year his achievement was acknowledged when he was
named BBC Wales Sports Personality of the year.
As he moved up the boxing ladder, he took centre stage in
top-ranked shows in Johannesburg and Paris, not to mention the
Albert Hall, London, and the Empire Pool.
From a famous boxing family, he had won the ABA title under
his real name, Nancurvis, in 1958.
He took the British crown six months after his triumph over
Barnes and reigned as dual champion until the end of his career
at the age of 28.
His world title chance eventually arrived in 1964, when he
took on the great Emile Griffith at the Empire Pool.
But Curvis's preparations for the fight were far from ideal
— he had been injured during the build-up — and the tough New
Yorker showed no mercy.
Curvis was knocked down three times — in the sixth, 10th and
13th rounds — by the brilliant American but showed remarkable
courage to climb to his feet to force a points decision, which
went against him.