Carrying David - Glenn McCrory
By fmttm
Tuesday 21 May 2019 11:18:00
Browse all GENERAL INTEREST articles

On June 3, 1989, Glenn McCrory became the very first world champion boxer from the North East and a new play will celebrate that historical achievement. It will also shine a light on a family tragedy that was the boxer's driving inspiration. The boxer who fought so many of his biggest fights on his second home of Teesside.

Carrying David, which outlines Glenn's  bumpy rise to becoming the world cruiserweight champion, has been written by top North East playwright Ed Waugh and will premiere in the region in May/June. Teessiders are well familiar with McCrory who fought as a professional for Middlesbrough promoter John Spensley in Boro and Thornaby.

Glenn, 54, who commentated on Sky Sports for 26 years, said: "I might be a lad from County Durham but I loved boxing for John and I love Teesside. It was my second home when I was a boxer."

Glenn continued: "I had one of my career-best moments at Eston Sports Centre in September 1989, successfully defending my IBF cruiserweight title against Siza Makathini.                                                                                                                                                         

"Great times. You never forget them."

Carrying David outlines Glenn's bumpy rise to boxing glory. The David in question is was Glenn's terminally ill brother who was his inspiration through the many, many lows experienced by the Stanley lad as he relentlessly strove to re-write boxing history.

The comedy-drama, which is guaranteed to make people laugh and cry, will feature a re-telling of the great fight when underdog Glenn was matched against the well-fancied Patrick Lumumba for the World Cruiserweight title.

The occasion took place on  Saturday, June 3, 1989, at the 1500-seat Louisa Centre in Stanley in front of a capacity crowd and the world's media; the fight was beamed live worldwide.

Roly Bullock, 73, from Eaglescliffe, was there.

"It may be coming up to 30 years ago but I remember it like it was yesterday," said Roly, a long distance lorry driver with British Chrome at Eaglescliffe for 36 years until his retirement in 2012.

"A dozen of us regulars at the Union Arms in Yarm liked boxing and we had a savings scheme for boxing events. We got tickets and a coach was booked for the fight at the Louisa Centre in Stanley.  

"Glenn was one of us. A local lad, a lad from the north East. He was crating history, we'd never had world champion from the North East before. Think about it,  the world title being fought for in our region!

"Mind you, Glenn was the rank outsider. His opponent Patrick Lumumba was the firm favourite but we wanted to cheer our lad on. It was a historical occasion, like an FA cup final," said the life-long Middlesbrough fan.

"We were all excited on the bus but when we got there we discovered we had front row seats! Whatever excitement we were experiencing up to that point immediately doubled!

"When Glenn came into the ring he looked good; fit and psyched up for the occasion. Lumumba was no slouch. He came excepting to win but Glenn moved and punched well.

"It was an electrifying atmosphere; everyone got behind him."

Roly recalled: " I remember being a bit worried in the sixth round as Glenn looked like he was tiring and Lumumba tried to come back but Glenn had a huge heart that night. He fought like a lion, a bloody lion! I was so proud of him. It was like having a son in the ring.

"When the final bell went the whole place just rose up as one. Everyone was cheering and clapping; strangers cuddled. It was euphoric.

"We all knew Glenn had won and, when the announcer officially confirmed it, the excitement and passion went to another level. It's something I'd never experienced before or since.  It was indescribable. I wept tears of joy."

Roly continued: "Glenn was leaping up in front of me. Well that was it! The next thing I know I'm crawling through the ropes and have my hands around his head, cupped at the nape of his neck. I can recall telling Glen how proud I was of him.

"My memory is he was dazed and thinking: "I don't know this bloke. Should I know you?".  Then the television camera came right up to me!"

Being shown live nationally and internationally, it was at this point that Roly's wife Joy, 70, and daughter Rachel, then 13, switched channels to find out the result and to see if they could see Roly in the crowd.

"I saw dad holding Glenn and was stunned,"  said Rachel, who is a Tyne Tees Television news presenter. "I uttered the words to mam, "Is that dad?  What's he doing in the ring?"

"I couldn't believe it!" 

Roly then shook Glenn's boxing glove and re-joined his mates "who were still dancing with joy". 

Roly added: "After the fight we were invited to Glenn's hotel to continue the party. It was rammed! When we were there a pub landlord from Newcastle told it was his birthday and opened up his pub for us! I got back to Yarm at 2.30 and crawled into bed at 3am!

"That was on the Saturday. On the Monday I had a delivery to make in Wales and some of the lads at the depot recognised me from the telly. They had been watching the fight. The same at other depots in places, including Rotherham. We had 200 working at British Crome then, and for a while I was known as "Roly from the telly!"

Roly said: "We've seen dozens of fights, including Chris Ewbank in his pomp but this was the greatest I'd ever seen. I've got the fight on video and over the years I've watched it. I watched it again recently. I still get the hairs standing upon my spine watching Glenn.

He gave the whole region a lift. I'm still ever so proud of him."

Carrying David North East tour.

May 31 to June 1 - Tyneside Irish Centre,  Newcastle, NE1 4SG. June 3* & 4 - Alun Armstrong Theatre, Stanley, DH9 0NA; June 6 - Playhouse Whitley Bay, NE26 1LZ; June 7 - Town Hall Theatre, Hartlepool, TS24 8AH;  June 8 - Westovian Theatre, South Shields, NE33 2JS; June 9 - The Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond, North Yorkshire.


Tickets from only £16 via the venues or

*The 30th anniversary of Glenn's historic victory.

Carrying David

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