The Mysterious Case of Undefeated Terry Marsh! Interview by Ken Hissner (Aug 18, 2010) Doghouse Boxing
Being on the other side of “the Pond” I have had some favorite UK fighters like Alan Minter, Dave Charnley and Howard Winstone. I even had my picture taken with John Conteh when he was in Atlantic City! The one boxer I have spent the last year trying to find out is whatever happened to the unbeaten IBF light welterweight champion Terry “Fighting Fireman” Marsh? I discovered he wrote a book called “Unbeaten”.
Marsh retired at the age of twenty-nine in December of 1987 after compiling a 26-0-1 record with ten knockouts. The former British and European champion only had one IBF title defense. Only twice, in France and Monaco did he leave the UK to fight elsewhere. As an amateur he was the 1978 ABA lightweight champion and 1980 and 1981 ABA welterweight champion. In 1981 he also was the Multi-Nations Gold Medalists in Manila.
In over 200 fights between amateur and professional Marsh claims to have never scored a clean knockout. Sporting a frail look his opponents thought they would roll over him. He became a lot smarter and elusive and couldn’t be knocked over. The closest he claims to have scored a knockout surprisingly was in his championship win with American Joe Manley. A short left hook sent Manley to the canvas while Marsh got a right hand in on the way down. Even that didn’t keep Manley from getting off the canvas. That bout took place in March of 1987 in the UK. Marsh was finally able to stop Manley 0:20 into the tenth round when American referee Randy Neumann halted the action. “Marsh was all over him. Manley didn’t come to fight,” said Neumann. The one American judge Charley Spina had it the closest up to that point at 88-82.
Marsh turned professional in October of 1981 at the age of 23 scoring a six round decision win. In his sixth fight he beat Gerry MGrath, 8-0. This was followed up with his only non win in drawing with Lloyd Christie, 8-6, over eight rounds in London. The referee had the only vote which was 78-78 by Sid Nathan. Oddly enough there was never a rematch with Christie. This bout took place in April of 1982. Christie would win the BBBofC British lightweight title in January of 1987 and lose in May of 1988 in an attempt to win the European title.
In Marsh’s first trip abroad he defeated Didier Kowalski, 28-9-2, the French Lightweight champion in France over eight rounds. Several fights later he won the vacant BBBofC Southern Area light welterweight title defeating Jamaican Vernon Vanriel, 18-5-3, over ten rounds. Next up in November of 1983 he won the first of two decisions over Lee McKenzie, 9-3. He repeated this in September of 1985 scoring several knockdowns. Then he won the final eliminator for the BBBofC British light welterweight title over twelve rounds ending the six bout winning streak of Clinton McKenzie, 30-9. In McKenzie’s previous bout he had defeated American Bretty Lally, 16-2.
In January of 1985 Marsh stopped Peter Eubank, 10-11, who had just defeated Joe Frazier, Jr., 12-1. Next up was his first American opponent in Randy Mitchem, 27-14, whom he stopped on a cut eye. In October of 1985 he won the European title stopping Italian champion Alessandro Scapecchi, 26-3-2, who had won seven of his last eight fights. This took place in Monte Carlo, Monaco. He would make two EBU defenses winning twelve round decisions over southpaw Frenchman Tusikoleta Nkalankete of the from the Congo, 13-6-2, who would later take the title after Marsh gave it up. The other defense was over Italian champion Francesco Prezioso, 13-2-4, who was 10-0-2 in his last twelve fights.
Marsh would stop a pair of Americans in Rick Kaiser, 12-5-1, and David Taylor, 10-6-3, who had drawn with Joe Frazier, Jr., then 14-2. This earned Marsh a title bout six weeks later in the UK winning the IFB light welterweight title from Manley. Manley had a win and a draw with champion Gary Hinton and a win over Olympic Gold medalist Howard Davis, Jr.
Marsh had a title defense four months later in July of 1987. Akio Kameda, 27-3, the Japanese champion came to Royal Albert Hall, in the UK, on a four fight win streak. The southpaw from Japan was well behind even though it was Marsh with a bad cut over his right eye, when the bout was stopped by American referee Randy Neumann in the seventh round. “Marsh was cut badly. I’ve been in fights (3) with (Chuck “Bayonne Bleeder”) Wepner and those fights were not stopped on cuts,” said Neumann. Usually it is the ringside physician that makes that call. It was the last fight for both fighters.
Marsh was looking to invade the US when he was diagnosed with epilepsy. He tried to get licensed in Atlantic City but it was not approved. His boxing career was over at twenty-nine. His boxing career was on half the story. This former school chess champion, who joined the Royal Marines where he started his career and fire service though boxing for the Navy, was heading for a bigger fight outside the ring.
In 1989 Marsh’s former promoter Frank Warren was attending a boxing match in November of 1989 when a masked person gunned him down. He pulled through it and started the ball rolling several months later getting Marsh charged with the crime of attempted murder. Marsh would be sent to three different prisons over ten months before being acquitted. During that time he found the prison system not a fair place on the most part though it was a small percentage of the guards who took advantage of the prisoners. Though for the most part he stayed out of trouble he once smeared a substance on his body which he claimed was baby oil while another claimed it to be something not as pleasant so the guards would have a problem removing him from his cell.
It seems Marsh made more money with law suits than he did in the boxing ring. This one time bookmaker was released and was employed in asset management. Today at fifty-two if he talked comeback after twenty-three years retired he could be matched with Hector “Macho” Camacho, still active at forty-eight or Saoul Mamby who retired at fifty-three and at sixty-one made a comeback in 2008 in a losing bout. Marsh wanted to be known as the only former champion in the UK to retire unbeaten but Welshman Joe Calzaghe at 46-0 has remained retired now at thirty-eight for gone on two years. There are quite a few unanswered questions in the life and times of Terry Marsh whose book “Undefeated” explains quite a bit. He was nice enough to answer a couple of questions for this writer.
KH: Terry, your career was a short one, less than six years with twenty-seven fights though you had several hundred amateur bouts. Did you think you were misdiagnosed with epilepsy?
TM: I didn’t have that many amateur fights. Altogether, I had around 200 fights man and boy. I’d be a buyer at 199 and a seller at 201. As for the epilepsy diagnose, it was as a result of I “passing out” on a couple of occasions. I properly made the mistake of seeing a neurologist instead of a nutritionist. Epilepsy is a wide spectrum and in a sense I was on the spectrum. I did experience “epileptic” form attacks but every fighter who takes a punch on the chin that registers in their brain, also suffers epileptic forms of attack. Not sure if it was a misdiagnosis but it was really inconvenient. I was working at the time as a firefighter and that was also my intended career post boxing but the diagnosis meant no job after boxing.
KH: The only non winning bout on your record was the draw with Lloyd Christie in your seventh bout. Why was there never a rematch?
TM: I subsequent read that Lloyd had been chasing me for a sequel following my title success but the message never got passed on. As an aside, I received a cut in the fight with Lloyd and associated cuts with stoppages and a result was ultra negative, thus the draw. Should I receive cuts in the future to avoid defeat I would have to be less cautious then I was.
KH: Early on you ventured to France to fight their champ Didier Kowalski. Was there any chance of the decision not going your way in your mind?
TM: I always prefer fighting away from home and this one was no different. The fight was paradoxically competitive and one-sided. Even the most partisan of Frenchmen could not have denied me the decision.
KH: In your sixteenth fight you won the British title over Clinton McKenzie had just defeated American Brett Lally, 16-2. Was this a major win in your career?
TM: Clinton was then rated fourth in the world and my success put me up there as a contender. Clinton didn’t know how to be in a bad fight and this fight no different. My son, aged 20, states it as my finest hour.
KH: In 1985 you travel to Monte Carlo taking on Alessandro Scapecchi the Italian champion for the vacant European title. You stop him in the sixth round to win the title. Was there much pressure fighting the Italian champ in Europe?
TM: As I said before I prefer fighting away from home. This was no different. Although there was the problem of a broken left hand that I took into the fight. It was damaged in the preceding fight. If that wasn’t enough I sustained a nasty cut in the second round which looked ominous. Following the cut I resigned myself to defeat, fighting each round as my last. My opponent quit in the sixth with a hand injury. Another aside, I also fought away from home in North Carolina at Camp Lejeune against the best the US Marine Corp could offer, Capers DeAntagnac, a top amateur. A unanimous decision went in my favor.
KH: Your promoter is able to get IBF light welterweight champion Joe Manley to come to the UK for a title defense. I had seen Manley fight in Atlantic City and on the tube and he was very capable. Was this one of your tougher fights?
TM: It was always going to be a problem as this was in my own back yard. I think a lot of pressure was taken of me because I was expected to lose. It’s great being the underdog. All respect to Joe but it was not one of my tougher fights. It was a great fight from the Marsh point of view but years later I was to hear that Joe had not been 100%. It detracted from what was otherwise a great memory.
KH: At twenty-nine you are the champion what was that feeling like?
TM: It was a great relief. I was now only one fight away from retirement. At the Manley press conference I had said “having won the title I would have one defense to show it wasn’t a fluke then retire undefeated”. I had always seen winning a world title has the quickest way out of boxing. I had been boxing since I was ten years old and I wanted to finish while still in one piece. Unlike most champions I had a career (firefighter) running alongside so the difficult transition from Champion to civilian was expected to be relatively smooth.
KH: You make a successful defense against the Japanese champion Akio Kameda and had a bad cut over your right eye. Had you gotten cuts before? Had you ever been knocked down?
TM: The cut came in the second of a fifteen round fight. It was bad and it did not look like the injury would last the duration. I stepped up the pace and Akio wilted in the sixth round. Looking back, my opponent was dead at the weight. As for the knockdowns once as a pro, three times as an amateur. I got up to win on each occasion.
KH: I don’t like getting into outside the ring without permission from the person I am interviewing but I have to ask you something. When you were doing prison time over ten months there was a story you put baby oil over your body so when the guards came in to take you out they would have a real problem. Had you stripped down and was it baby oil or shit?
TM: Yes and it was baby oil. I had taken enough shit from the screws .
KH: How do you think you would have done against Ricky Hatton?
TM: Not very well.
KH: You have produced a book called “Undefeated”. Tell us something about the book and how have the sales gone so far?
TM: It was all my own work from writing, editing and publishing. Even the spelling mistakes are mine. As I published it myself I was unable to secure a distributor which meant it didn’t get on the shelves and then off of them. It was sold on the road but I quit doing that a few years ago. It has become something of a collector’s item. It now sells on Amazon over and above RRP.
KH: I heard you made more with law suits that you did in the ring. What are you doing with yourself these days?
TM: Yes that is true, tax free income as well. I had a good teacher. I work for an asset management company as an investment manager/analyst and head of dealing.
KH: It’s been my pleasure finally getting to connect with you. You are and will remain one of the few world champions to go and stay undefeated. That is something they can’t take away from you.
First, I want to thank Boxing Bob Newman for making the contact between Terry and myself. Bob was at the WBC Night of Champions in Cardiff, Wales. What was interesting in connecting to Terry Marsh is that in the questions he answered he didn’t act like a big shot when I asked him about how he would do with Ricky Hatton. He simply said “not very well”. Even the question about the baby oil in prison he joked about the screws giving him enough shit. The man has been through a lot but obviously has never lost his sense of humor. There are many things this world can take from you but in Terry Marsh’s case they can’t take away the title of being “undefeated”!
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