Len Johnson; Manchester boxer and Communist

Manchester's Radical History

Len Johnson was born in Manchester in 1902. His father was William Benker Johnson, an African seaman, and his mother was a young woman from Manchester, Margaret Maher. After leaving the merchant navy his father worked for a time on boxing booths and, after a spell in engineering, Len followed his father into the profession. He fought professionally as a middle-weight from 1922 and 1933, and beat some of the best British and foreign fighters of the day, including Roland Todd, Len Harvery, Gipsy Daniels and Leone Jaccovacci. However Len was not allowed to fight for official British titles because the British Board of Boxing Control said that only white boxers could compete for titles. After he left the ring he toured his own boxing up and down the country. During the war Len worked in civil defence in Manchester and after the war worked as a bus driver and…

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Fascism and anti-fascism in 1930s Manchester

Manchester's Radical History

The following article on Fascist leader Oswald Mosley’s humiliation by anti-fascists at Belle Vue is reproduced by kind permission of Manchester University’s Centre for Jewish Studies, and is by Michael Wolf of the anti-fascist periodical Searchlight. The introduction to the article is based on an article by Yaakov Wise, also on the CJS website.

One of Manchester’s most unpleasant claims to fame is its connections to Sir Oswald Mosley, the founder of the British Union of Fascists and supporter of Hitler and Mussolini. Mosley Street in Manchester city centre is named after his family – although not after Oswald Mosley himself. Early meetings of BUF were held in Hyndman Hall on Liverpool Street in Salford and rallies held at Queen’s Park in Harpurhey.

In 1933 a BUF meeting at the Free Trade Hall descended into rioting between fascists and anti-fascist communists and was broken up by police…

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“Nothing is true, everything is permitted.” – Hassan-i Sabbah, Grandmaster of the Assassins


I first heard the quote “Nothing is true, everything is permitted” uttered on the video game Assassin’s Creed. At the time it was just a cheesy line of dialogue delivered rather woodenly during a lofty conversation about…well…the Assassin’s Creed. I prompty clicked through that cutscene and went back to jabbing my Wolverine ninja claws into nearby guards without giving it a second thought.

Months later, I came across the quote once again outside the mindset of dismembering virtual bad guys and the sheer scope of the observation struck me. I googled it’s origin and grew even more impressed.

The quote “Nothing is true, everything is permitted” is rumoured to have been the deathbed words of Hassan-i Sabbah, founder of the Order of Assassins. This was a much feared cult in ancient Iran, infamous for their tactic of carrying out public murders of their enemie’s leaders usually without harming civilians.

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January 2017, Day 8, Takekaze v Kaisei

Black Mawashi

Takekaze provides a real treat on Day 8, winning by one of the rarest kimarite (winning techniques) seen in sumo. Ipponzeoi (one-armed shoulder throw) is used by wrestlers only .02% of the time (for contrast, 26% of all bouts are decided by yorikiri), and the last time Takekaze performed it was almost twelve-and-a-half years ago. After a solid tachiai against Kaisei, Takekaze starts off trying to pull his opponent down by the back of the head. When that doesn’t work he transitions quickly into a double-underarm morozashi position, looking for the front of the belt with his left hand to equalize the left-handed overarm grip Kaisei has already secured. Kaisei does a good job clamping down on Takekaze’s left arm and making it hard to get a solid grip, so Takekaze jumps backward. He lands and sets his feet sideways, with Kaisei following closely. The momentum is in Takekaze’s favor…

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