Queen’s Crescent stops to pay tribute to boxing trainer David London
24 January, 2020 — By Dan Carrier
The funeral procession for David London
QUEEN’S CRESCENT came to a standstill on Friday afternoon as hundreds of mourners came out to pay their respects to a well-known boxing trainer.
David London, who died before Christmas after suffering from cancer, was a respected figure in the neighbourhood.
Mourners followed a hearse through Queen’s Crescent to St Dominic’s Church in Southampton Road – accompanied by a specially rewritten version of The House Of The Rising Sun, referencing his home in the Gospel Oak block Wendling, which he used as a gym.
Mr London was born in Westminster in 1958. His parents Elva and Cecil moved from Trinidad to London in the 1950s and worked respectively as a nurse and a car painter.
Growing up in Gayton Road, Hampstead, he went to Hampstead Parochial Primary School and then to Quintin Kynaston, now the Harris Academy. He met his wife Geraldine while the pair were children, at Belsize Park’s Parkhill Adventure Playground.
David London idolised Muhammad Ali
Aged 17, he visited her work to ask her out – but she wasn’t there. Undeterred, he went back the next day. The pair would spend the rest of their lives together.
After leaving school aged 16, he briefly sold clothes for the menswear firm Burton. Mr London was renowned for being a dapper dresser – he loved colourful suits, with friends betting on what he would be wear each day. Crippins, the former clothes shop in Chalk Farm, provided many of his more eye-catching outfits.
He was also known for his dance moves, listening to soul at the Purple Pussycat in Finchley Road and Global Village in the West End. Mr London and Geraldine married in 1978, and the couple had two children, Katey and Gerard.
In the early 1980s, Mr London set up a firm to provide labourers and tradesmen, and found work for scores of people living in NW5. He was successful enough to provide workers for projects across Europe.
After moving to Wendling in the early 1980s, he set up a gym in his garage. He idolised Muhammad Ali and worked out. He offered personal training to young people in a bid to keep them off the streets and out of trouble. “He would tell people they could achieve whatever what they wanted – and they’d believe him,” said Geraldine. “He was brilliant at motivating others.”
One example came when he took his son Gerard, then aged around 20, to watch a Mixed Martial Arts bout. The challenger had failed to show up – so the MC goaded the crowd, saying none of them was brave enough step into the ring. Mr London told his son he could win – and Gerard, in borrowed shorts and gum shield, stepped forward and won the All Styles British title.
Mr London would go on to establish The Big Brawl, to train young people and host exhibition bouts.
He would ensure they used large gloves so no one got hurt. He also earned a living acting as a chauffeur for boxing promoter Barry Hearn – but swerved the late-night lifestyle others in the game enjoyed. He would drive Mr Hearn to fights in Birmingham – and instead of going on to a night club would drop them off and drive home. He would set his alarm and return to collect them at day break.
Mr London’s fitness and willpower was illustrated after an accident in 2005 led to him suffering two major strokes. He lost his sight, speech and could not walk, but he battled his way to a full recovery and returned to training others.
He loved action films, cooking meals – his Sunday roasts, spaghetti Bolognese and chocolate cakes were favourites – and he was also partial to visiting Ravel’s Bistro in Fleet Road, and the Town Cafe in Kentish Town. Friends said Mr London will be remembered for his belief in respect, hard work and manners, and helping people in need.
He is survived by his wife Geraldine, daughter Katey, son Gerard and grandchildren Paige, Fred, Tyler, Kayne and Jayden.