Amateur Boxing Club

Sparta Amateur Boxing Club  c.1947

Edinburgh Entertainment  -  Sport  -  Sparta Amateur Boxing Club

©  Reproduced with acknowledgement to Ian Foster, Perth, Western Australia  and his brother (extreme right, bottom row)


View smaller photo

and read about the Club

     Edinburgh Entertainment  -  Sport  -  Sparta Amateur Boxing Club ©

Restore this photo

Thank you to Phil Wilson
for the restoration

     Edinburgh Entertainment  -  Sport  -  Sparta Amateur Boxing Club  -Photograph c.1947  -  restored ©

View later photo

     Edinburgh Entertainment  -  Sport  -  Sparta Amateur Boxing Club ©


Sparta Amateur Boxing Club


Who is in the photograph?




Ian Foster

Perth, Western Australia

Thank you to Ian Foster for sending me this photograph.

Ian wrote:

Front Row

"The person at the extreme right in the front row is my brother.

Ian Foster,  Perth, Western Australia:  21 October 2005




Henry (Hank) Kaczynski,

Annapolis, Maryland, USA

Thank you to Henry (Hank) Kaczynski, US Army, Retired,  Annapolis, Maryland, USA, for the following message.

Hank wrote:

2nd Row
from front

"The gentleman in the second row in the white fisherman's (turtleneck) sweater is George Shaw **,  my father-in-law who passed away in 1978.

George was a great guy and the Sparta Athletic Club was his pride and joy when he managed it.  He took the Scottish Team to the Commonwealth Games in Perth, Australia.  I can't recall the year."

Henry (Hank) Kaczynski, US Army, Retired,  Annapolis, Maryland, USA:  23 October 2005

Hank subsequently wrote, on September 24, 2009 to tell me that this man is,  in fact, George Shaw's brother, Willie Shaw.




Averil Bishop (née Houston)

Fredericksburg, Virginia, USA

Four Houstons

Thank you to Averil Bishop (née Houston) who recognised this photograph and wrote:

"I just wanted to let you know that there are four Houstons in the picture of the Sparta Amateur Boxing Club.  They are:


4th from right:   Alan Houston

2nd ROW
from front

5th from left:  John Houston (Treasurer),
and father of Jim, Johnnie and Alan.

3rd ROW:
from front

 4th from right:   Johnnie Houston


right:   Jim Houston.

This picture hung on the wall for years in the house I grew up in at Burdiehouse."

Averil Bishop (née Houston), Fredericksburg, Virginia, USA




John Houston

Dayton, Ohio, USA

Thank you to John Houston who wrote:

"I was very surprised to find the group photograph of the Sparta club taken in 1947.   It brought back many memories of my childhood and upbringing in Edinburgh.

I was a member of the Sparta club from 1946/47 to 1955 and I am in the photograph, in the third row.   Two of my brothers and my father are also in the photograph.

We were told that the name Sparta was taken from the ancient Greek soldiers of Sparta,  “every man a brick”

The club was founded by Jimmie Robertson and the brothers George and Willie Shaw.   The person in the second row with the white polo jersey is Willie Shaw.   I have attached a photo taken 1 or 2 years later in which both George and Willie are there.

The photograph was taken on a Sunday morning in the playground of Broughton School, at the other end of McDonald Road from the Sparta clubhouse.

I also attended Broughton School, primary and secondary from 1946 to 1955.

I recognize many of the people in the photograph, but remember only a few names."


My brother Alan Houston is in the front row, 4th from the right.    He would be aged 6 or 7 at the time of the photograph, I was 9 or 10.

2nd ROW
from front

From the right are:

1st:  Willie Shaw (one of the founders);

2nd:  I can’t remember;

3rd:  Mr. Horne, committee member and father of Robert (Bobby) Horne who is in the third row;

4th:  Mr. Burgess (President or Treasurer);

5th:  John Houston, my father;

6th:  Jimmie Robertson (co founder);

7th:  Mr. Anderson, trainer;

8th:  Trainer, can’t remember his name.

3rd ROW:
from front

From the right are:

1st:  He was the janitor at Broughton Primary School and lived there in the house there in the playground. I can’t remember his name;

4th:  Me, John Houston, standing next to a giant on my right who I cannot remember.

8th:  Bobby Horne, several time Scottish champion.

 John Houston:  Dayton, Ohio, USA, May 5, 2006

Thank you to John for also sending me a photograph of Sparta Amateur Boxing Club, taken around 1949.



Dave McKinlay

New Zealand



Thank you to Dave McKinlay, New Zealand, who wrote:

"I am in this photograph, together with my two brothers:

4th ROW: FROM FRONT  -  I am 3rd from the right.

-  James is 5th from the right.

-  Billy is 7th from the right."

Dave also gave me more names of people in this photo, so I think it's time to compile a table of names now.  See below.

Dave McKinlay, New Zealand:  August 14, 2009



Margaret Ritchie

near Portobello, Edinburgh

Thank you to Margaret Ritchie, who wrote:

The Janitor

"I am looking at the photo of the Sparta Boxing Club members taken in the playground of Broughton Primary school in 1947.

The man in the 3rd row, first on the right is correctly described by John Houston as the janitor of Broughton Primary school.  His name was Frank Woodhouse and he was my grandfather.

He originally came from Camden in London but moved to Scotland at the end of the first world war.  He lived in the house in the playground along with my grandmother, his 3 daughters and (eventually) me.  He retired as janitor in 1957 and moved to the brand new Magdalene estate near Portobello.  He died aged 93 in Falkirk, Stirlingshire.  He loved his boxing and was glove steward at the Sparta.

As a family we all went along to the club on McDonald Road.  If anyone remembers a wee 5-year-old girl who used to dance a Highland Fling in the ring between fights - that was me.

It has been lovely to see Frank in the photographs.  He is also in the photo taken in 1949, 2nd row first left. 

His daughter, Florence, discovered him in the photos while searching the website.  She is 81!!"

Margaret Ritchie, near Portobello, Edinburgh:  October 25, 2009

Note for Margaret Ritchie

Hi Margaret:  I tried to reply to your email message today, replying to the same address as you sent you message to me on October 25, 2009, but my reply did not get through to you.  It was returned to me with the message 'unable to validate recipient'.

If you have a different email address that I could use to contact you, can you please email me to let me know it.

Thank you.  Peter Stubbs:  November 3, 2009



Kerr Henderson

Thank you to Kerr Henderson who wrote

My Dad

"My father, Colin Henderson, is also in this photo.

-  He is in the front row, 4th from the left.

-  His older brother, Len is in the 3rd row from the front, 2nd from the right.

-  Thier older brother, James, is in the 4th row from the front, 4th from the right.

I’m not sure when my dad stopped his boxing.  We think it was when he was in his teens.  He also joined the Civil Service where he spent his entire working life. He died in 1996."

Kerr Henderson:  March 31 + April 2, 2012




John Carson

Thank you to John Carson who wrote:

My Dad

"I am 4th from the left in the front row in this photo."

John Carson:  February 15, 2013

To Ian Foster (who provided the photo at the top of this page), John Carson wrote:

My Dad


I lived No.3 Fort Place (top flat).  You were on the 1st floor.  Your brother went to Sparta at the same time as I did.  Can you remember me?  I'd be pleased to here from you  -  we could  reminisce.

John Carson:  February 15, 2013




John Carson


Thank you to John Carson for writing again.

John  wrote:


"I was a member of Sparta Amateur Boxing Club in 1948.  Reading the messages about Sparta brings back  many happy memories of people I remember.

I remember

-   Our Waverley Market Boxing Exhibition.

 Boxing in Grangemouth Club.
The winners all won a small cup.

Camping at Kelso in tents.
For a week during that holiday we put on an exhibition in the Town Hall.

-   Eddie Carson.  Professional Training at Sparta.
We, as young lads, got the opportunity to go in the ring with him as part of our training, and knock ten bells out of him if we dared.

John Carson:  February 16, 2013


Sparta Amateur Boxing Club - 1947


1st Row

2nd Row

3rd Row

4th Row

5th Row

1     Mr Henderson   Jim Houston
2 Mr McCann Mr Dodds Jimmy Clayson    
3   Mr Anderson Jimmy Ward    
4 John Carson Jimmy Robertson      
5 Colin Henderson John Houston Bobby Horne or
Cecil Horne
Billy McKinlay  
6   Mr Burgess      
7 Jimmy Cairns Mr Horne   James McKinlay  
8 Jimmy Malcolm     James Henderson  
9 George Shaw George Shaw
Willie Shaw
 John Houston Dave McKinlay  
10   Andy Drummond      
11 Alan Houston   Andrew Neil?
Len Henderson
12     Frank Woodhouse    
14 Mr Foster        

showing colour coding in the table above

Thank you to the following for emailing me from around the world and supplying some of the names of the people in this photo.

I found a little confusion in the way some people identified who was in this photo, so if I have got anything wrong, please email me.  Thank you .

-  Ian Foster, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

-  Henry (Hank) Kaczynski, US Army, Retired,  Annapolis, Maryland, USA

Averil Bishop (née Houston), Fredericksburg, Virginia, USA

-  John Houston, Dayton, Ohio, USA

-  Dave McKinlay, New Zealand

-  Margaret Ritchie, near Portobello, Edinburgh

Kerr Henderson

-  John Carson, Edinburgh


Sparta Amateur Boxing Club