Charity match to be played to raise funds for Len Johnson statue

  • Lamin Touray has headed a long-running campaign to try and get recognition for the boxer.

Boxing stars including Ricky Hatton and Anthony Crolla are lacing up their football boots to celebrate the life of Len Johnson.

Len, born in Clayton in 1902, is known as Manchester’s uncrowned boxing champion.

Despite having almost 100 wins under his belt he never actually got to fight for an championship belt due to a law - known as Rule 24 - which stated any title contender must have two white parents.

As well as being known for his in-ring record, he was also known for his civil rights and anti-racism efforts, even helping black sailors who had been sacked by a shipping company keep their jobs.

Now, half a century after his death, a campaign is gathering momentum for a statue in his home city.

A charity fundraising match will be played to raise money for the statue, putting FC United of Manchester Legends against a team of celebrities - the Len Johnson FC All Stars.

So far boxers Anthony Crolla and Ricky Hatton have been confirmed to take part in the fixture on 27 May, with actors from Coronation Street, Hollyoaks and Waterloo Road, set to be announced.

The Prince of Wales at the fight between Len Johnson and Jack Hood at the Ring, Blackfriars Road.

The statue, which will take pride of place in the centre of Manchester, has been the focus of a long-running campaign by Lamin Touray to try and get well deserved recognition for the boxer.

He said: “The Len Johnson story is remarkable. He was a true fighter both in the ring and outside of it winning 93 out of 135 professional fights is unbelievable.

"I believe the Len Johnson story has been kept from us purposely and I want to do everything I can to make Len a household name in Manchester and eventually the UK."

Former FC United of Manchester manager Karl Marginson says he is pleased to have the event take place at the club and will manage the FC United Legends team.

“Being involved in this game is both an honour and a privilege and I am sure I speak for the players who have agreed to take part when I say that," he said.

“The Len Johnson story was one that I think many people, myself included, would not have been aware of.

"His outstanding determination, against all odds, to make a positive change for the betterment of others means a statue of Len will be a great tribute and serve as a reminder for people to fight against discrimination of all kinds."

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