Wednesday, 14 May 2014

The Mysterious Death of Freddie Mills

Freddie Mills was one of the biggest sporting heroes this country has ever produced, and certainly the most popular boxer.  From honing his craft in fairground booths as a teenager to becoming the Light Heavyweight Champion of the World, he did it all.  But long after his retirement, he had inexplicably been found dead in his car, from a gunshot.  The official explanation was suicide but many, including members of his family, believe different.  There is also a long standing claim that he was a notorious serial killer.  Younger viewers would say "who is he?" others would reply, "a true sporting legend".

    Frederick Percival Mills was born 26th June 1919, in Bournemouth, where he acquired his first boxing gloves as a young boy and did some sparring with his brother.  It was after he left school that he started as a fairground booth fighter at age 16, taking on members of the public for a couple of rounds.  This was one of the tough learning schools that numerous fighters went through, learning their trade.  Heavyweight fighter Tommy Farr was another who learned in the booths.  Mills had his first professional fight in 1936, and in under four years, ran up a very impressive record.  Mills` style relied on punishing punches, and aggression, which meant he took quite a bit of punishment.  Over the years he took on more superior opponents such as Jock McAvoy, Jack London, Len Harvey, then ran into the American Gus Lesnevich for the world title but lost.  He fought Bruce Woodcock and the American Joe Baksi, then met Lesnevich again, for the world title.  This time he won, and reigned from 1948 to 1950, but lost his title to the great fighter Joey Maxim.  He retired from the ring.

    Mills then started playing cameos in films, and was a regular on TV.  He opened his nightclub "Freddie Mills` Nitespot" on Charing Cross Road.  Later on, it has been said that he was in financial trouble and unsuccessfully tried to sell the club.  Another problem was a newspaper story saying that some of the hostesses at the club were prostitutes, but Mills apparently had no idea of this, but mud has a tendency to stick.  The Krays visited his club often, but they enjoyed being around fighters.  One problem he definitely had was recurring headaches, thought to have been caused by his willingness to take punishment in the ring.  Events turned on July 25th 1965, when he was found dead in the back of his car, at the back of the club.  He had been shot through the eye.  A rifle was found next to his body.  Nipper Read investigated the case and concluded that it was suicide.  Not a popular decision with many.  Then all kinds of theories and conspiracies sprung up.  He was killed by the Krays, was one.  Would either of them fancied a straightener with him?  Besides they really admired him, plus Read said they had no involvement.  He crossed a Chinese Syndicate, was another.  No evidence has been produced to support this.  He was heavily in debt to a crime syndicate, was yet another.  What crime syndicate?  They must have a name.

    The most outrageous(in my view) was that he was the notorious London serial killer, "Jack the Stripper" a killer of six or more prostitutes, most being murdered between 1964 & 1965.  Where this sprang up from was the suspect was a former boxer who committed suicide, tying Mills in, but worked as a security guard on an industrial estate.  John Du Rose was convinced this man was the killer, but his name has surfaced on the net.  It was not Mills.  However, a couple of books have claimed that he WAS the killer but without actual proof, this is simply speculation.  People saying "I remember...." is not enough.  I do not think this mystery will ever be resolved but who was "The Stripper" may yet be revealed.  My money would be that it is not Freddie Mills.