Joe Beckett was a Hampshire man, he was born in Wickham in 1894 to a family of fairground workers. Joe grew up amongst the boxing booths of country fairs. By the time he was 25 years old Joe was the British & Empire Heavy weight Champion, having beaten Bombardier Billy Wells, and was challenging for the World Championship.
In 1911 Joe Beckett came and fought in Ampfield, on the field beside the White Horse. A fair had pitched its tents on the field and the local lads came to have fun with their girls and prove their manhood. The boxing booth was their destination.
Three fighters stood outside the booth flexing their muscles. “ Step up, step up” the promoter yelled, “ survive three rounds with any boxer and win a pound”.
Arthur Waters was a cowman on the Faber estate in Ampfield, he was known to be quick with his fists, and eventually his friends got him to put his hand up, “I’ll give it a go” he cried.
The matches were arranged and Arthur’s opponent turned out to be a good looking lad, whose face was much more unmarked than the other two “bruisers” fighting that day.
Just as the fight was about to start a voice rang out from the crowd, “That’s Joe Beckett”. There was silence around the field, for even then Joe was known for his fighting skills, but the match was on and the two fighters came together.
For three rounds the Ampfield cowman and the future British & Empire Champion fought it out, and at the end they were both still standing, with the village crowd going crazy screaming for the young cowman.
Arthur Waters won his pound note, and Joe went on to make boxing history.