Opening - Friday , 30th September, 5:30pm
Words taken from segments of the introduction of the book of the same name on the year David Pearce became a Newport legend.
The book is due out before Christmas and the anniversary of the title fight in 2023. Images can be seen at Ffoto Newport, Market Arcade opening on Sept.30th to Oct. 30th
It was a different era. No managers, promoters or PR officers to deal with. Just a knock on a front door of a large detached white house next to Somerton Park, the home of Newport County FC. It was a short explanation to David’s father Wally, then organising the first meeting. That was it.
I was a student in my final year on the world renowned Documentary Photography course founded by Magnum photographer David Hurn. I was extremely lucky to be accepted onto the course and to have the college in my home town, Newport.
We had to find local stories that we felt would make it in the national media. I saw a short story in The South Wales Argus about a local boxer who was fighting Belgian heavyweight Al Syben at the Lyceum Ballroom in The Strand, London on the 7th April 1983. Next stop, the home next to the football ground and a knock on the large white door.
Thinking back I suppose the most intriguing aspect of all of this was the access I was given. Getting ring side passes for fights wasn’t an issue and obviously the more I worked with David and the family the more trust they had in me. But for a student, I believe now, it would be impossible to have the access to photograph such an indepth documentation of a national sport star.
My access to all areas remained even for a big title fight like this and on the fight footage you see a young man shooting through the ropes in the corner next to the hardened pros. The story had a perfect end to this chapter as David dominated the fight and sent Meade up against the ropes with a thunderous left hook in round 9 with referee Roland Dakin keeping Newport’s Rocky away from the semi-conscious, now ex-heavyweight champion. It was David’s title and a stampede of brothers clambered into the ring to pick the ecstatic champion from the floor to celebrate. Wally as usual, understated.
Even through all the excitement of becoming the British Heavyweight Champion David put others before himself. In his TV interview he said “I have never ever trained so hard in all my life and I really wanted it bad for my father, my new manager, for Newport and myself”. What happened next was a tragedy.