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Bombardier Billy Wells
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    (August 31, 1889-June 12, 1967)
    Born in London, United Kingdom
    Heavyweight boxer
    British and British Empire champion (1911-19)
    41 wins (34 by KO), 11 losses
    Height: 6’3
    Weight: 192 pounds
    He dropped out of school at age 12 to become a messenger boy.
    He did not take body blows well, with another boxer describing him as ‘all chin from the waist upwards.’
    He was scheduled to face world champion Jack Johnson, but the fight was cancelled by the Home Secretary, Winston Churchill.
    He tried to launch an acting career, but his most prominent appearance would be as the man striking a gong at the beginning of J. Arthur Rank films.
    The title bout with Johnson was officially cancelled due to concerns about illegal gambling, but an underlying concern was that a fight between black and white boxers would ‘intensify racial difficulties throughout the Empire.’
    During World War I, he organized physical training programs for British soldiers in France.
    Ingram Wilcox became the final £1 million winner on the British edition of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire by correctly identifying Wells as the J. Arthur Rank gongman (September 23, 2006).

Credit: C. Fishel

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