by sports writer and broadcaster Jerry Hjelter.
Born in Jamaica on 10th May 1947 Bunny Johnson is guaranteed his place in the British boxing record books for all time on three counts. Initially as the first black boxer to become British heavyweight champion, secondly by also winning the light heavyweight championship together with a coveted Lonsdale Belt and thirdly by remarkably winning the heavyweight title first before dropping to his natural 12-7 division.
An adopted "Brummie" Bunny's first paid fight was in Bristol on the 2nd August 1968 where he stopped Peter Thomas inside two rounds.
That was the first of 10 straight wins in eight months before he was stopped in seven rounds by Guinea Roger, a loss that was avenged three times.
However because of his boxing ability and powerful punch Bunny found difficulty in getting fights at his natural light heavyweight so to earn a living he was forced like Freddie Mills two decades earlier to fight heavyweights.
In March 1969 he beat the unbeaten Coventry heavyweight Peter Boddington, tipped as a future champion, other victims included:Hans Jorgen Jacobsen, Dennis Avoth, Rocky Campell, Billy Aird, Eddie Avoth and Les Stevens.
His success against the previously unbeaten Stevens was a final eliminator against Richard Dunn in Manchester, against the odds and giving away a huge weight advantage Bunny won with a KO in the tenth round.
After three more wins on 13th January 1975 he made history by knocking out Danny McAlinden in the ninth round to become British and Commonwealth heavyweight champion.
After four more wins against foreign opposition Bunny again giving away over two stones lost his title in a re-match with Dunn on points over 15 rounds.
However after his heroics in the heavyweight division the BBBC rewarded him with a final eliminator fight for the light heavyweight championship which he won with a 10th round stoppage.
He went on to beat defending champion Tim Wood with a first round knockout and remained unbeaten against all British opposition including Dennis Andries (a future world champion) to win a Lonsdale Belt outright before giving up his title to move to Australia where he briefly combined boxing with a career in radio before returning "home" to Birmingham.
Since his return Bunny found time to study for a law degree is now heavily involved in social work involving under privileged youth in some of the communities poorer areas. He is also a respected member of the Midland's Area British Boxing Board of Control.
Jerry Hjelter, Sports Argus and Boxing News.