Finding the Sweet Spot

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Harry Knapper
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Boxing aficionados may well recall the name Pat McAteer, a Birkenhead born professional boxer in the 1950s who held the British Empire Middleweight title and challenged for the European title. His record as a professional boxer is impressive, 57 bouts winning 49 of them.

AudlemOnline was very interested to learn that Harry Knapper (see first photo), a long time village resident of about 40 years, was a highly skilled amateur boxer in his youth and defeated Pat over 6 two minute rounds and subsequently turned down an offer of £5,000 to go professional. Harry was an apprentice at the Crewe Railway Works where he learnt to box and became London Midland Area Welterweight Champion boxing at weights less than 10 st 7 lbs (see second photo). However, Harry's first priority was to continue to further his education and so, on the advice of his father, turned his back on the ring at the age of 19.

Harry has been reminiscing about his life to AudlemOnline and we thought our readers would be interested to learn more about him. He is a prime example of a man who, in spite of a poor start in life, was highly motivated to better himself and was extraordinarily successful in doing just that. Harry was born in 1930 and is of the age group whose fathers fought in 2 world wars. He left school at the age of 14, and after a brief spell working on the land, he joined the Crewe Railway Works as an apprentice Fitter and Turner. At school, Harry's nickname was "Prof", reflecting his interest in books and learning, an interest he continued in his teens by studying at nightschool. He still has today all of the notes he made at his nightschool lectures (Editor's note : and extraordinarily neat and tidy they are too!) and by the age of 20 Harry had qualified to go to sea as an Engineer Officer, as did 2 of his brothers.

During unpaid shore leave, Harry attended the Liverpool College of Technology (now John Moores University) to further his studies and qualified as a Chief Engineer at the unusually young age of 28, firstly on Motor Ships and soon after on Steam Ships as well. The College successfully recommended Harry for the qualification of Chartered Engineer. Harry finally "came ashore" in 1968 after nearly 20 years at sea.

He met Anne in the early fifties in a pub in Liverpool where Anne was celebrating a night out with nursing colleagues and they married in 1956. Harry says Anne was much better educated than him, having been educated at the Royal Masonic Boarding School in Rickmansworth. She was very supportive of his studies and career and travelled extensively with him when, as a Senior Officer, he was entitled to take his wife on voyages. Harry now has 2 grandsons at sea as Engineer Officers and 2 of his sons served in the Royal Navy as Engineers on nuclear submarines, all following on a family tradition.

Following his career at sea, Harry became an Operations Engineer working on the gas feed and steam systems for nuclear reactors. He drafted the start up and shut down instructions for Hinkley Point B. He later set up his own very successful company to offer consultancy services to the power station industry and worked in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia until his retirement in 1995.

Although he retired from the ring in his late teens, Harry has always kept himself very fit and came to golf fairly late in life. He was involved in organising the "Hang Over Trophy" in the village, which as many will remember, took place on New Years Day (hence the name!). He tells a wonderful tale of a lady entrant to whom he was explaining the mystery of the "sweet spot" of a golf club. She was so impressed she asked Harry to show her husband how to find the sweet spot!

Editor's note : Harry maintains this is a true story but did have a twinkle in his eye as he related it.