One of the most exciting fighters of his generation – outstanding amateur record
Errol Christie, one of the most exciting fighters of his generation, has died aged 53 years. He was born in Leicester on 29th June 1963, raised in Coventry, and put together such an outstanding amateur record that he was compared to Randolph Turpin, another boxing hero from the West Midlands. I remember him well winning the ABA senior title at Wembley in 1981, from whence he went on to add the European under-19 title the following year. When Errol turned professional later in 1982, after moving to London, it seemed that the world alone was his limit, in spite of the “middleweight” divisions being particularly well-stocked with talent at that time.
Christie won by first 13 professional contests, all but one inside the distance. Even his first defeated – by knockout to Jose Seys – in 1984 seemed to be a mere blip, just “one of those things”, because he went on to win his next seven fights by knockout or technical knockout. For a year or two Errol appeared to be invincible as rivals wilted before his onslaught. His prospects started to unravel, however, when he fought Mark Kaylor in a British middleweight title eliminator at the Wembley Arena on 5th November 1985 and was beaten in eight rounds. The defeat was important because although he continued to fight successfully for a while Errol was perceived to be vulnerable against a hard-hitting opponent.
The sequences of victories between losses were becoming shorter. There were four before the next defeat, then two, and then three. Two more successes and then he hit a loss, win, draw, and two final defeats. The knockout loss in the second round to Trevor Ambrose at Manchester on 19th March 1993 persuaded Errol to hang up his gloves with a professional record of 32 wins, 8 losses and a draw. That final contest came after he had been out of the ring for some two years following a three-round loss to Michael Watson at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham on 18th November 1990. A particularly worrying fact was that all bar one of the defeats was inside the distance. With his whirlwind style of attack Christie had traded far too many punches than were good for him.
After retirement Errol worked as a market trader but kept in touch with boxing and was often seen ringside. Later he trained white-collar boxers, wrote a book about boxing, and was adviser on a play about the sport. Christie was diagnosed with small-cell lung cancer in March 2015 and passed away in a London hospice on 11 June 2017. Although he did not contest, let alone win, a senior professional title Errol Christie’s attacking style, his courage in continuing in the ring long after opponents had become aware of his vulnerability, his outstanding amateur record, and his engaging personality have ensured that he is remembered long after many of those who wore the belts have been forgotten.