After The Gloves Come Off: Jack Peterson
The former British Heavyweight and Light-Heavyweight champion retired after losing to German Walter Nuessal for the third time in February of 1937. He was only 26 years old which is very young for a talented boxer to retire; in fact some boxers have been known to have their professional debut at an age later than the Welsh man was when he retired. Despite only being a professional for some five and a half years Peterson had missed falling into the trap of saving some of his hard earned ring earnings and opened a sports shop in Bury which became successful.
It seems like the Cardiff born male never resented having to retire young from an eye injury as he didn’t live in the past and embraced his life as an ex-boxer. He was conscripted into the army after World War II started and he rose to the position of major in the Royal Air Force as a physical training instructor. In 1950 Peterson was awarded the Territorial Decoration for his army service. After completing his armed forces service he kept in contact with the sports that helped him so much financially.
First Jack Peterson helped to train fellow Welshmen Dai Downer and Howard Winstone amongst others. Then he worked behind the scenes at the British Boxing Board of Control and eventually became the first ex-boxer to become President of the administration body in 1986. The retired Welshman was honoured to become one of a select band of boxers to be knighted for his services to sport.
The smart talented Peterson may have been able to outfox the poverty that a lot of boxers fall into, there was one thing he wouldn’t be able to outrun and that was death. In late 1989 Jack was diagnosed with lung cancer and succumbed to the terrible disease at the Princess of Wales hospital in Bridgend on November 22nd 1990. He was 69 years and his death didn’t just sadden the boxing fraternity but also the Welsh nation as he was a hero for his rags to riches story and his exciting ring style.
In May of 2013 the Peterson house was burgled and his nine carat Lonsdale belt was stole, it was worth in the region of £20-50,000. The priceless Lonsdale belt was going to be donated to a Cardiff sports museum in the future as the Peterson family consider the hardly won belt was something to show the Cardiff people how talented Jack Peterson was (The first Welshman to win the British & Commonwealth Light-Heavyweight, Heavyweight titles).
Jack Peterson is one of the few ex-boxers to have a comfortable post boxing career and deserves to be held up as a template on how a current boxer manages after they hang up their gloves.