Art In Peterlee, County Durham
Six foot pair of boxing gloves commemorating the achievements of Maurice Cullen.
I was driving through Shotton and along Station Road, heading for the chippy when my head was turned by the sight of two shiny boxing gloves. These gloves are huge, at least 6 foot and hanging from a bar, so why are they there?
The sculpture is to commemorate the achievements of Maurice Cullen who was a local man. He became British Lightweight Champion and defended this title 5 times. Not many have won the title 4 times.
Maurice was born in 1937, grew up in nearby Wheatley Hill, and later on, moved with family to Shotton. He became a pipe fitter at the local Colliery and boxed in the National Coal Board boxing Championships winning The featherweight and later lightweight title.
By the age of 22 Maurice had turned professional with his brother Terry as Manager.
Maurice's right hand had given him problems such that his style of boxing was centered around his left jab which gave him the nickname of 'The one armed bandit'. He also had a condition called Bradycardia which meant he had a slow heart rate - lower than 60 beats a minute.
This gave him the advantage of endurance, so whilst jabbing with his left he would 'float like a butterfly' avoiding his opponents reach. Maurice's career took him all over the world, including to Maddison Square Gardens in New York and Brazil. He had 55 fights only losing 8 of them. He retired in 1970.
After boxing Mr Cullen went to work in Hartlepool at a chemical factory. Then became a milkman which resonated with his desire to keep fit. Unfortunately in 1998 whilst running he collapsed, and had a quadruple heart bypass. He recovered, but died of a heart attack in 2001.
Graeme Hopper, a County Durham royal artist was commissioned by a local Councillor, to create the boxing gloves using a pair of Maurice Cullen's as 'models'.
I'm not sure if the left one looks more worn than the right?
The steel sculpture required some techniques developed by the Birtley group. Mainly how to suspend the piece with drainage and ventilation points when it was hot galvanised with an even coat of zinc.
Graeme then etched the gloves to give light and dark patches. The shiny lacquer applied gives them an aesthetically pleasing look. Graeme has other local works including some at The Botanic Gardens in Durham city. He is responsible for The fungate and millennium bug and offspring.
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Contributed by Rosalind Parker
Thanks for reading through and getting to the end of this post. I enjoy exploring the Fabulous North (Especially as a Southerner residing up North). I like 'snippets' of information, and more so, if they are obscure, amusing or meaningful. The photographs are taken on a mobile phone, without any enhancements.
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