Hornchurch man Ralph Oates to be ‘boxing advisor’ for Guinness Book of Records
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A knockout blow would be dealt to anyone who dared go up against Ralph Oates for a few rounds of boxing trivia.
Challengers would be punching above their weight against the resident of Alma Avenue, Hornchurch, who has written a series of quiz books on the subject and has recently been appointed Boxing Consultant by Guinness World Records.
The former amateur boxer has been writing books for over 25 years and his latest book, Aspects of Heavyweight Boxing, is due to be released in August.
Ralph, 57, has lived in Hornchurch his whole life. He took up boxing at the age of 10, sparring both at school and at his local club.
He boasted an impressive record during his time, but his fledgling career came to an untimely end at the age of 15.
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He said: “Out of 40 fights as a youngster, I only lost three. I had to stop boxing when I was 15 as I was short-sighted.
“I wasn’t a hard puncher anyway – I was more tactical.”
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Although he was unable to fight, Ralph’s interest in boxing prevailed and he began following the sport avidly.
He had his first book, World Heavyweight Boxing Champions Elite, published in 1987 and has written seven more books to date.
He said: “I saw a gap in the market, as there were no quiz books on boxing.
“The books generally sell slowly but well over a period of time. My 2009 book, The Ultimate Boxing Quiz Book, was the second bestseller in WH Smith’s boxing section.”
Considered one of the country’s leading experts on boxing history, Ralph’s expertise and knowledge is regularly called upon. Along with his new position at Guinness World Records, he has supplied questions for the BBC’s quiz show Who Dares Wins.
He also wrote a column for the Essex Courier and for 18 years wrote for the British Boxing Board of Control’s annual yearbook.
He sees very little interest in the sport around Havering, and admits himself that he mainly follows national and international fights.
“There isn’t much of a boxing scene around here. Colin Lynes, the British welterweight champion, lives in Hornchurch. There is a club in Elm Park that is quite popular too, but apart from that there isn’t much.”
Ralph thinks the reputation of thuggery that boxing has acquired is unfair, and is a key reason why many are reluctant to bring it back into schools.
Last year, Dereck Chisora caused controversy after slapping opponent Vitali Klitschko during the weigh-in before their fight, spitting water at his brother Wladimir and then brawling with fellow heavyweight David Haye in the post-match conference.
“There are some people who are trying to bring boxing back into schools. Most associate the sport with thugs, but there is a diverse mix of people who box. “Nicky Piper, the Welsh former British and Commonwealth champion, is a member of MENSA, and Nathan Cleverly, the light heavyweight world champion, has a degree in maths from Cardiff University.”
Having retired from his job at the Daily Mail, where he worked for 35 years, Ralph now devotes most of his time to his writing and researching.
His next step is to move into fiction, and he is currently writing a series of short stories based around boxing.
He said: “I’m always writing and researching; boxing takes up most of my time. I’ve almost finished another quiz book and then want to move on to the short stories.
“There’ll be one based on a boxer, one on a manager, a trainer, a fan – all aspects of boxing really. Hopefully they’ll be as popular as the quiz books.”