He may have been born on the banks of the Cross River in Calabar, Nigeria, but world boxing champion Hogan ‘Kid’ Bassey was proud to call Liverpool his home.
One of five children, Okon Bassey Asuquo already held the West African and Nigerian bantamweight titles when he emigrated from Lagos to Liverpool in 1951.
He turned professional when he was still at school, but soon realised he could only make a living out of boxing if he moved to Britain or the USA.
Adopting the name Hogan Bassey, he teamed up with manager George Biddles and won his first UK bout against Ray Hillyard in Liverpool in January 1952.
In November 1955 he knocked out Irishman Billy ‘Spider’ Kelly in Belfast with a perfectly timed right hook to take the Commonwealth featherweight title.
The world featherweight title followed in Paris in June 1957 when he beat French-Algerian Cherif Hamia by a technical knockout in the 10th round.
Pre-fight favourite Hamia was on the floor in round two but fought on until the referee stopped the contest eight rounds later.
The popular Bassey, who won 15 of his 17 bouts in Liverpool, returned to a hero’s welcome and was awarded the MBE in July 1958.
City MP Bessie Braddock was at Buckingham Palace with Bassey and his wife Maria to see him receive the well-deserved honour.
Known for being a modest man, Bassey was bowled over by the adoration he earned over his 74-fight career.
He eventually lost his title to American Davey Moore in Los Angeles in March 1959, but not before making an army of fans around the world.
He proved so popular in Britain that he made 19 ring appearances in his first year after leaving Lagos.
Bassey was regarded as one of the great ambassadors for African sport, both as a boxer and later as the coach of Nigeria’s national amateur team.
Also making a big name for himself in Liverpool the 1950s and 60s was heavyweight Joe Bygraves. One of 11 children, he settled in the city in 1946 after leaving Jamaica at the age of 15.
After turning professional in 1953, Bygraves beat Kitione Lave at the Empire Pool, Wembley, to take the vacant Commonwealth heavyweight title in 1956.
He defended the title three times, knocking out British boxing legend Henry Cooper and drawing with Dick Richardson before eventually losing to Joe Erskine in November 1957.
Photos of Hogan Bassey and many more unmissable images feature in Clive Hardy’s brilliant new book Around Liverpool and Merseyside in the 1960s – published this July.
Orders will be dispatched in the week beginning July 9th 2018.
Don’t miss out on the remarkable story of an unforgettable decade!