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Terry Downes

Terry Downes Profile Image
  • Nickname: Paddington Express
  • Date of Birth: 9th May 1936
  • Died: 6th October 2017 (81 years old)
  • Career length: 7 years 7 months
  • Status: Deceased
  • Nationality: England Flag England
  • Birthplace: Paddington, London, United Kingdom Flag Paddington, London, United Kingdom
  • Residence: Paddington, London, United Kingdom Flag Paddington, London, United Kingdom
  • Division: Middleweight
  • Height: 176cm
  • Reach: 175cm
  • Stance: Orthodox
  • BoxRec: Terry Downes
  • Debut: 9th April 1957


Terry Downes, known as the "Paddington Express" for his aggressive fighting style, was a remarkable figure in boxing and as a character outside the ring. At the time of his death, his journey from Paddington, London, to becoming Britain's oldest surviving world champion encapsulates a story of determination, resilience, and versatility.

Downes' early life, marked by his family's move to the United States and subsequent service in the US Marine Corps, set the stage for his boxing career. His military service, where he won several amateur trophies, highlighted his innate fighting spirit and physical prowess, qualities that would define his later boxing career. Despite the setback of being ruled ineligible for the US Olympic team, Downes' return to London and transition to professional boxing showcased his relentless pursuit of success.

Managed by Sam Burns, Downes quickly made a name for himself in the professional boxing world. His battles against notable fighters, including a defeat to Dick Tiger and victories that led him to win the British middleweight title, demonstrated his skill and determination inside the ring. His fights against Paul Pender for the world middleweight title, particularly the bout in London where he claimed victory, are etched in boxing history. These matches showcased his fighting skill and resilience as he bounced back from losses to defend his titles and challenge new contenders.

Downes' win over Sugar Ray Robinson, although against an ageing legend, further solidified his legacy. His humble reflection on beating "Robinson's ghost" rather than the prime fighter speaks volumes about his character and respect for the sport and its icons. Transitioning to light heavyweight and challenging for the world title against Willie Pastrano added another chapter to his illustrious career, even though it ended in controversy and was his final fight.

Beyond boxing, Downes ventured into acting, portraying characters that mirrored his tough, no-nonsense persona. His roles in films, including "The Fearless Vampire Killers," showcased his adaptability and charm, which endeared him to fans inside and outside the boxing community.

Terry Downes' life story is one of overcoming challenges, achieving greatness, and diversifying one's talents. His legacy in boxing, acting, and charitable work, highlighted by his British Empire Medal honour, reflects a life of passion, determination, and a touch of humour. Downes remains a celebrated figure in British sports history, remembered for his achievements in the ring and his vibrant personality and contribution to society.

In May 1957, Downes was matched in his third professional bout against a then-unknown African named Dick Tiger. Downes lost by 5th-round stoppage in a big upset. Tiger would go on to capture the world's middle and light heavyweight crowns in an illustrious career. When interviewed in the ring by the BBC, Downes was asked who he would like to fight next, to which he answered immediately, “The bastard that made this fight.” A reference to Mickey Duff.