|Howard Winston – ironmenofmerthyr.org|
Cardiff based film company, Cinetig, is working with Cyfarthfa schools and local people to produce a film exploring the history of boxing in Merthyr Tydfil.
Merthyr Tydfil has produced many boxing champions, including Howard Winstone and Jimmy Wilde who both held world titles, and the European champions Eddie Thomas and Johnny ‘The Matchstick Man’ Owen. Cinetig is exploring this rich history through a film project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, working with local school children from Cyfarthfa Junior and High schools, historians and members of the community. Students from Cardiff and Newport universities have also volunteered their services.
School students have been to visit Dowlais boxing gym, where many of Merthyr’s champions first cut their boxing teeth, and had the chance to try out some skills on the boxers training there. There have also been history, art, film literacy and creative writing workshops in schools, including learning about storyboarding with Andrew Barnden who worked on the Tomb Raider film.
Cyfathrfa Castle Museum, including community coordinator Chris Parry, has been of great help to the project with their extensive archives and artefacts from Merthyr’s history. The museum hosted The Boxers of Merthyr Tydfil, an evening celebrating Merthyr’s boxing heritage. Chaired by Carolyn Jacobs, a historian from Merthyr Library, the venue was full of generations of Merthyr’s boxing fans and people involved in the sport, who listened to a panel made up of former boxers Don James, George Evans and Chris Collins.
Coming up will be filming of a bare knuckle boxing fight and animation workshops where professional animators will work with Cyfarthfa High and Cyfarthfa Junior school students. The finished film is due for completion in autumn 2011 and will feature the work of the students as well as interviews with notable people and clips of the events.
The film, which is Directed by BAFTA Cymru award winner Jane Hubbard, has its own website (www.ironmenofmerthyr.org) where people can keep up to date with the project’s progress, including photo galleries, blogs from people involved and all the latest news. Cinetig are also looking for accounts of experiences of boxing in the area to add to their blog. If anyone has a story to tell from anytime in Merthyr’s history they can email firstname.lastname@example.org
Amy Morris is the Project Coordinator for the Ironmen of Merthyr project and is the Production Manger at Cinetig. “The people I have met and worked with in the community, during the Ironmen of Merthyr project, have been very supportive and extremely knowledgeable and passionate about their local history. I have learnt an enormous amount.
“It’s also been fantastic to work with Cyfarthfa High School and Cyfarthfa Junior School; the young people are incredibly talented and have been consistently enthusiastic from the start.”
George Evans is a former boxer and author of A Bagful of Monkeys, a book about his experiences with boxing. He has been heavily involved in the project and has a long history in the sport: “I come from a long line of boxers, from my grandfather to my father, uncles and myself. Everywhere I turned there was boxing.
“I’ve enjoyed delving back into the history of Merthyr’s boxing. The demise of boxing in Merthyr over the past 20 years saddened me so it was nice to look back at the glory days,” said Mr Evans.