Friday, 14 November 2014

Jimmy Tibbs - A Reappraisal

I have just acquired the autobiography of famous boxing trainer Jimmy Tibbs, and he gives his side of the story about him getting a ten year sentence.  This came about with a war between the Tibbs family and the Nichols family and their associates.  Mr Tibbs does raise interesting questions about the trial and conviction of him, his brothers, father and some friends.  Credit where it is due, he puts his hands up to what he did and that he deserved to get put away.  But he and his family were not the only offenders.  The feud started when George Tibbs, then 65, was battered by one of the Nichols brothers, who was in his early twenties.  He admits to the incidents of wounding one of the Nichols Brothers with a shotgun, the attack on Len Kersey, and other incidents.  But he raises the point about why nobody was accountable for slashing the throat of his brother, Bob, who nearly died.  Then there was a car bomb that almost killed himself and his young son.  Just exactly who was responsible for that?  

    He openly admits that all these incidents were tit for tat retaliations, not part of a gangland war.  It was a war.  But not an Underworld war.  He said he would do anything when family is threatened or attacked.  The attack on Len Kersey was supposedly for calling them "Pikeys" but he says it was a part of the ongoing tit for tat.  He acknowledges why Commander Bert Wickstead used them as a way of sending a message to the Underworld that warfare will not be tolerated, but was unhappy about a number of things in the Police investigation.  His outrage was the fifteen year sentence handed to his father for "Perverting Justice" but I have not seen any explanation in books about what he was supposed to have done.  He questions why the Nichols Brothers and their associates were never charged over their crimes, but they were.  Over the years, there have been claims that they were going to take over the East End.  I remember one quote as   " gun, knife, boot and hatchet"  On a documentary about the Great Train Robbery, former top cop Frank Williams talked about organised crime "...we had problems with the Krays, the Richardsons and later, the Tibbses"

    A couple of books mentioned that the Krays never crossed them up.  Maybe it was because they were a family that would take no shit from anybody and would fight fire with fire if threatened.  Or was that something invented to bolster the perceived image of the Tibbs family.  I certainly knew of a couple of families like that.  They were not villains but tough people who were not pushed around.  One family consisted of five brothers, all hard men, two were seriously hard.  So I can understand where he is coming from on that point.  But he eventually became not only a top trainer, with world champions around him, but a very respected trainer around the world.  What has been written about the Tibbs family concerns the case presented in court - they were the villains of the peace whilst the Nichols` were the victims.  He disputes a number of points in the case against him.  Attempting to run down the Nichols` in his car.  A gun had been left with his prints on it and so went back, slap bang into a load of Police.  Not going to do you much good trying to kill somebody with plenty of Police witnesses.

    Why have I written this post?  Everybody is entitled to a right to reply, and although he has not asked for it, he says he is sick of the incorrect assertions of him and his family.  He says it in his book and in interviews.  His life has been totally dominated by training young men to be world champions, hardly the actions of a "hardened gangster"  and so I put up this post for his side of the story, a story he has now left behind for decades.