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W L (Doug) Coleman
Doug Coleman pictured in 1988) was probably born in
He seems to have tried to turn professional in his boxing career in the immediate post-war period, unfortunately with little success. At any rate, he lost the three recorded and traceable fights that he had in early 1946 and then finally in late 1947, being knocked out in one of them and loosing on points in the others. These bouts took place in Swadlincote, Ardwick Stadium in
This is suggestive of the likelihood that he spent the war in the Derby area and, in view of his later certain occupation, as a coach builder at what was then still the Midlands Railways Carriage & Wagon workshops, this was because he was in a reserved occupation. He may just possibly have been elsewhere before the war’s end, but certainly by 1945, Doug was already deeply involved in trade union and political activity in the town. He was a delegate to the
It is possible also that his medical condition was not good and that this prevented him from being called up for the services and probably from being a successful professional boxer. In later years, Doug exhibited strong symptoms of Dementia Pugilistica (PG), a neurodegenerative ailment that often affected boxers in this period and is still a concern for a small but significant minority. More colloquially called punch-drunk syndrome, the condition is caused by repeated blows just below the threshold necessary to cause concussion. Signs of DP develop progressively over a long latent period, sometimes taking decades. Doug had trouble with his speech in retirement, although he fought this valiantly. Sadly, even in the labour movement, there were those who thought Doug’s affliction either mentally or alcohol related.
But back in the days when he first hung up his gloves, a confirmed role for Doug’s fists occurred in 1947. Surprisingly, so near to the end of the war, fascism began to rear its ugly head again. This was a time when serious social disturbances of an anti-semitic nature arose with tensions associated with Zionist terrorist activities in
At this time, a report appeared in the
Both Doug and another Communist raised the issue at the
Tension arising from fascist activities was inevitable, especially when the Sons of St George came across active Communists. Andy Bird recalled that he was once caught out on his own, while campaigning door to door for the Communist Party in
Tommy and Winifred Moran both stood as independents in the 1947 local elections on a platform of opposition to the “Comintern” and the Communist Party, despite the fact that the former was now dissolved! They were both prominent fascists in
The Morans were long-time supporters of Oswald Mosley. The old British
Doug Coleman probably contested elections for the
Despite the trenchant words, he polled only 78 votes to the Mayor’s 1,901! Doug had another go in 1953, when he stood in what had been an indepenedently held ILP stronghold, but he only took 42 votes to Labour’s 765. In 1954, he stood in Osmaston ward, getting 89 votes.
Despite his verbal limitations, Doug continued to attend and speak at
Sources: G personal knowledge; Derbyshire Advertiser - October 31st 1947; January 16th 1948; May 2nd 1953; May 9th 1952; GS interview with Andy Bird - 1985