Obituary: Sir David Hopkin

Bob Mee
Thursday 11 September 1997 23:02

David Hopkin's influence, first as Chairman of the British Boxing Board of Control from 1983, then as President from 1991, helped the board to become one of the best organised and smoothly oiled of boxing administrative bodies in the world.

He campaigned firmly for the standardisation of boxing regulations, especially in medical areas, across the world. It was a thankless, almost impossible task, but along with John Morris, the secretary of the board, he took up the fight and brought the issue into the open. It remains a long-term objective in a sport which is notoriously maverick.

Hopkins also played a major role in the revamping of the constitution of the European Boxing Union (EBU), an organisation which had long been viewed within the trade as anachronistic, ill-informed and racially biased. He was instrumental in persuading the EBU to register as a limited company, with its financial base in London, and to revitalise its administration. The EBU is now one of the most efficiently run administrative bodies in the world, with a reputation for making sensible, well-informed decisions.

The son of Daniel Hopkin, a Labour MP, David Hopkin was educated at St Paul's School and studied at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, and Corpus Christi, Cambridge. He was called to the Bar at Gray's Inn in 1949 and worked in the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for 20 years from 1950. With his Dickensian looks and quiet, gentlemanly wit, Hopkin was widely respected during his long association with Gray's Inn.

From 1970 he was a Metropolitan Stipendiary Magistrate, rising to become Chief Metropolitan Stipendiary Magistrate from 1982 until his retirement 10 years later. But it was boxing's strange, often bizarre world which attracted him for so much of his life. The current chairman of the British Boxing Board of Control, Leonard "Nipper" Read, said of him: "Sir David loved boxing and boxing people and his feeling for them was rewarded by a regard seldom expressed but always apparent."

Hopkin was invited to join the Southern Area Council of the British Board of Control in the 1950s by the leading promoter of the day, Jack Solomons, and settled quickly into the business. As chair-man from 1983 to 1991, he earned a reputation for fair dealing, although he could, when the need arose, be a firm disciplinarian.

By the 1980s his influence had spread internationally. He travelled widely to boxing conventions and championship contests over the last decade, constantly seeking to maintain and, if possible, improve standards of administration, with the welfare of boxers his first priority.

Shortly before his death, Hopkin received a letter from the president of the World Boxing Council, Jose Sulaiman, which said the annual award presented to the WBC Commissioner of the Year (the world-wide administrator of the year) was to be named after him.

Bob Mee

David Armand Hopkin, magistrate and boxing administrator: born 10 January 1922; called to the Bar, Gray's Inn 1949; Member of Staff, Director of Public Prosecutions 1950-70; Metropolitan Stipendiary Magistrate 1970- 92, Chief Metropolitan Stipendiary Magistrate 1982-92; Chairman, British Boxing Board of Control 1983-91, President 1991-97; Kt 1987; married 1948 Doris Whitaker (one son, three daughters); died London 21 August 1997.

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