Tuesday, 26 March 2013

1000 page views - thanks!

We have now reached 1,000 page views on this site since it opened on February 9th - so many thanks to everyone who has taken the time to check it out, I hope you've found something useful or interesting.

We celebrate with pictures of the boxer Georges Carpentier in his air force uniform (Boxer. Hits. It's a sort of pun, you see. Please don't get in touch to say a boxer doesn't 'hit', but 'punches' - I'm not letting the facts get in the way of a good, or even a bad, pun).

Carpentier became first French welterweight champion in 1911 at the age of only 17, following this up later in the same year by securing the European title. He then moved up weights twice, becoming European middleweight champion in 1912, then European light-heavyweight champion in 1913. On June 1 1913, he beat Bombardier Billy Wells to become European heavyweight champion. Just over a year later he was crowned as 'white heavyweight champion of the world' after beating the American Ed Gunboat Smith on July 16.

On the outbreak of war, Carpentier volunteered in advance of call-up on 7 August 1914. After serving as a driver, he was selected for service in the Aéronautique Militaire, and was sent to the flying school at Avord for pilot training. Qualifying from there on Farmans on 16 June 1915, he was posted to Belfort. On 11 September 1915, he was posted to MF55, at La Cheppe-Cuperly, during the Champagne Offensive. He was there awarded the Croix de Guerre. His citation read 'September 25. He did not hesitate to fly during misty weather and rain less than 200 metres above in enemy lines. he has given proof in many circumstances of sang froid, never returning until his mssion was accomplished, often with his machine, riddled with bullets and shell-splinters.'

On April 9 1916, he was transferred to F8, based at Tilloy in the Verdun sector. Here, he was awarded the Médaille Militaire. His citation read, 'Sergeant Pilot Carpentier as a skilled aviator impresses everyone with his bravery, executing perilous missions on a daily basis. He distinguished himself during the attack of October 26th, flying over the enemy lines at a low altitude for four hours, despite unfavourable weather, contemptuous of the danger.' A brief interview, in French, of his time at Verdun, is here (starting at around 02:50).

In December 1916, he became ill, and was eventually declared unfit to serve as a pilot. Subsequently, he took part in boxing exhibitions for the troops, based at the Army's physical education depot at Joinville, near Paris. He was demobilized at the end of the war.

In the 1918-19 season, he played rugby as wing three-quarter for Sporting Club Universitaire de France (I bet he had a good hand-off!), but at the end of the season, he resumed his professional boxing career. He resumed his light-heavyweight crown by beating Battling Levinsky in 1920, but lost to Jack Dempsey in the following year. He secured the European title in 1922 by knocking out Kid Lewis in the first round, but lost all his titles when he was defeated by Battling Siki on 24 September 1922. His last important fight was against Gene Tunney on 24 July 1924 (on Youtube here, but with a Japanese commentary!).

He retired from the ring in 1927, trying his hand at novels, then at films, before opening a series of bars in Paris. He died on 28 October 1975, aged 81.

Photos: Gallica (top), Wikipedia (bottom)