On 20th October in Parliament Gerald Jones, Labour MP for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney, held a debate to call for historical recognition for Cuthbert Taylor, a mixed-race boxer from Merthyr Tydfil once called ‘the best in Europe’ who was prevented from competing for professional titles in the 1920s and 30s because of his skin colour.
Born to mixed-race parents in Merthyr Tydfil in 1909, Cuthbert Taylor had a boxing career of over 500 bouts at amateur and professional level, winning numerous amateur titles, fighting people who would go on to win World Titles and even representing Great Britain at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics.
However, due to the Colour Bar rule, enforced by the British Boxing Board of Control between 1911-1948 which stated that fighters had to have two white parents to compete for titles, Taylor was prevented from ever challenging professionally – despite his remarkable ability – and in the debate, in Black History Month, Gerald called on the Government to take action to help achieve historical recognition for the Welsh flyweight fighter.
Speaking after the Westminster Hall debate on Tuesday 20th October, Gerald said:
“Cuthbert Taylor was fighting all his life – not only in the ring, but against a racist rule which left a stain on one of our country’s most popular and traditional sports, and judged him ‘not white enough to be British’.
“It is important now more than ever, in Black History Month and with the impetus of the Black Lives Matter movement, to right this historical wrong and ensure that Cuthbert Taylor, and so many other black British athletes across a range of sports, are not forgotten or cheated out of deserved recognition by a cruel past injustice.
“British boxing’s former Colour Bar rule serves as an uncomfortable reminder of a very different time, and while we cannot now go back and give Cuthbert Taylor the professional titles and success his career deserved, we can ensure that he has true and just recognition for his talent and abilities, and that his name is not forgotten from boxing history merely because of the colour of his skin.”
Alun Taylor of Merthyr Tydfil, grandson of Cuthbert Taylor, said:
“I’m very pleased that we’re able to have this debate about the injustice suffered by my grandfather. I’m hoping that now we can finally recognise him for the boxer he was, and have an apology for the way he was treated by the British Boxing Board of Control throughout his career.
“It’s been the best part of 100 years since he was denied the chance to compete for titles because of the colour of his skin, so an apology and recognition is well overdue.”