History of London Boxing
The Lonsdale Belt
The Lonsdale Belt
By Gary Holland
The origins of the Lonsdale Belt, the oldest championship belt in boxing.
The Lonsdale Belt is the oldest championship belt in boxing and its origins started in London back in 1909. The belt is named after Lord Lonsdale who was patron of the National Sporting Club. The Earl of Lonsdale was a keen boxing fan who supported boxing for many years.
It was originally presented to the champion in each British weight division and the holder could keep the belt if it was won and then defended two times. The belt was first won by Freddie Welsh in 1909 for winning the British lightweight title. Heavyweight Henry Cooper was the first person to win three Lonsdale Belts outright in his seventeen year professional career.
The belt is still won today and awarded by the British Boxing Board of Control although to keep it you must win and defend it three times. The belt is crafted from gold and porcelain and is therefore very expensive to produce.
"Bombardier" Billy Wells from London's East End was the first British Heavyweight to win the Lonsdale Belt back in 1911 where he defeated Ian Hague with a knockout in the sixth round.
The original belt won by Billy Wells
He defended the title thirteen times, a record that stood for many years, before losing against Joe Beckett in February 1919. The Lonsdale Belt that he won was the original heavyweight belt and is crafted from 22 carat gold unlike later belts.
BBC London have managed to track down this historic belt and we can exclusively reveal that the Belt is kept at The Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich, South East London. The belt however is not on display to the general public.
last updated: 09/04/2008 at 12:03