Credit has to go to late historian, Jimmy Cornfield for the words in this article. Jimmy wrote much of this in February 2000 assisted by Helen McIntosh Gordon, David McIntosh and Arthur Grant (Snr and Jnr).
Ian McIntosh was born in Blantyre in 1915 and was the eldest of 6 brothers who lived with his parents, in a one up room and kitchen with outside toilet in the Hill’s Pawn Building. This stood on Glasgow Road between Harper’s Garage and Low Blantyre Primary School.
The boys would all grow up and go on to serve in the armed forces, in fact one of them, David was killed in action in Italy in the 1939-45 war, another Jim youngest of the boys would serve in the Royal Signal Corps in the Korean War.
Ian joined the Blantyre Boxing Club which was run and trained by Paddy Slaven, a local notable trainer. (Paddy is pictured in the middle of the photo with Ian McIntosh on the right). Ian was only 10-11 years when he joined the boxing club and went on to take part in various boys contests as an Amateur. He showed great promise and earned the nickname of ‘Boy’ McIntosh because of his boyish appearance and youthful enthusiasm for boxing. (a feature and name which he retained all his life).
He turned professional at the early age of 16, around 1932 and had numerous contests at his natural weight of flyweight (8 stone) and bantamweight (8 stone 6lbs) still showing the promise of early years, he is described in a 1932 Boxing programme as ‘Boy McIntosh’ undefeated, a miniature ‘Mickey Walker’ and this was in 10 rounds (winner takes all) challenge contest against Charlie Smirke and accomplished professional of the time.
Ian went on to challenge Tommy Higgins another Lanarkshire boxer for a bet of £25 each side on a winner take all contest, such was the style and method of boxing at the time.
Sometime during the mid 30’s there was a disagreement between the McIntosh family and trainer Paddy Slaven, the gist being that the family wanted to match ‘the boy’ against the great Benny Lynch and the trainer didn’t. Paddy went on to say that in his opinion, Ian wasn’t ready for such a contest and advised the family to wait another year to 18 months, when Ian might be ready not only to fight Lunch but soundly beat him! Both sides couldn’t agree and Ian changed his trainer and club to George Aitchison at Dalmarnock ABC.
The boy was 17 when the match was arranged and took place. The contest was hard fought but Lynch stopped “the boy” in 6 rounds and beat him so badly that he was in bed for 3 days with concussion. Paddy Slaven’s words had come true, however such was the nature of Ian, that he fought another opponent within 10 days of his fight with Lynch but again was beaten.There are those in the boxing fraternity of the time who think that the Lynch fight was the turning point in a career that spanned between 60-70 contests. However there was no doubt to the skill and courage of this small ‘boy’ from Blantyre.
Some people in the boxing world may still remember Ian winning in his black tracksuit trousers, white cable knit sweater and his distinctive black mid dig hair style of the 1930s, between Halfway (where he lived) and Blantyre and think of what may have been for this little man from Blantyre if he hadn’t fought Benny Lynch as early in his career. “Champion of the World? ….we can only wonder.
I’ve also attached Ian ‘Boy’ McIntosh career listing from 1932 to 1938, a total of 58 contests. He won 49, lost 6, drew 2, 1 result unknown.