Jill Lesh

(Daughter of Hoppy Stevens) 1933 –1965


Boxing as a Sport at Wellesley

“I was delighted to read in the “Wellesley At the Bay 2005” a report about boxing at the school.

About 1938 or 1939 there was a boxing match held between Alister MacAlister and Douglas Olsen.  As the match progressed, blood began to flow and the Headmaster, W.H.Stevens, thought the bout should be ended.  Mr Stevens left his seat and went towards the Referee, only to be stopped by a parent, an American who said to Mr Stevens “I have paid big money to see boxing at Madison Square Gardens, but I have never seen anything as good as this”.  I do not know if the match was stopped, but possibly Alister himself might be able to finish the story.


Jill Lesh (nee Stevens) at the Wellesley front door in 1948

In the 1940’s – 1950’s, boxing was still a sport at Wellesley.  The matches were held in the gym.  The evenings started with the arrival of Doctor Martin or Doctor Paterson who checked out each of the participants, and then the most important man arrived, the Policeman from Eastbourne, wearing his uniform.  He would remove his helmet and hang it on a nail provided for it amongst much cheering from the audience, then he would take his place beside the Doctor and Referees, and the competition would proceed.  Matron would flutter around taking every punch that landed on one of her little darlings and she would mop up tears and a bloody nose or two.

At the end of the evening, supper was served in the dining room or Mrs Stevens’ drawing room.

Jill visited Wellesley in 2007, her first trip back since 1963.  “She delighted in acquainting herself with the new layout of the school.  After a tour of the environment, she commented to Warren Owen about how differently the school is utilised today.”

Memories of that visit are recorded in the 2007 At the Bay Magazine, p10.  Jill tells of the old layout of the school and how cold it was in ‘the big house’.   She also talks about sheep being used to keep the school playing fields trimmed as gardeners were hard to get.

Jill Lesh