Stars of TV, music and YouTube will battle it out against an FC United legends team at Broadhurst Park on Saturday 18th May as part of the campaign to build a statue for the unsung local boxing hero, Len Johnson.
With more than 20 celebrities and former players already confirmed, it promises to be another great day not to be missed – and it’s all in aid of a very worthy cause. You can buy your match ticket for just £5 now and watch a preview video on ITV.com.
Despite winning 96 of his 135 fights in the 1920s and 1930s, Johnson, from nearby Clayton, was banned from competing for titles because of a discriminatory rule, which stated that competitors had to have white parents. Johnson’s mother was Irish, and his father was from Sierra Leone.
As well as being renowned for his record in the ring, Johnson was also a well-known anti-racism, civil rights, and workers’ rights campaigner.
We’re delighted to host the second annual match after the inaugural fixture took place at Broadhurst Park in May 2023 in front of a crowd of more than 1,000 supporters and raised over £10,000 for the campaign. Johnson’s life story sits perfectly with our values and ethos as a club, which was born out of protest and defiance to fight back.
Last year, the Len Johnson side (wearing the colours of Sierra Lone – pictured above) was represented by a host of famous faces such as Channel 4 Gogglebox star Tom Malone, Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, several actors from Coronation Street, Waterloo Road, and Hollyoaks, football freestyler Ben Black, and Mancunian rappers Lady Ice and Tays.
Former lightweight world champion Anthony Crolla and Moston-born rapper Aitch were also in attendance at the game. Many of them will be returning to the celebrity team this year.
Campaign organiser, local activist and FC United supporter, Lamin Touray (pictured aboove with FC United legends Carlos Roca and Micahel Norton) said: “I’m delighted the Len Johnson celebrity match is back at FC United for a second year running.
“It means so much to us to be able to raise more crucial funds for the statue and massively increase awareness of the remarkable story of Len – Manchester’s uncrowned boxing champion. Someone who was denied the right to compete for the British title simply because of his skin colour. We want to celebrate his successes and highlight the struggle he went through.”
Black Lives Matter
Johnson’s story resurfaced in Manchester during the worldwide Black Lives Matter movement. The campaign to build a statue of Len in Manchester city centre is supported by Andy Burnham, several city councillors, and numerous world boxing champions, such as Anthony Joshua, Ricky Hatton, Carl Frampton, Tony Bellew, Natasha Jonas, and Amir Khan.
There is also a play about Len Johnson’s life, performed by Odd Arts, touring schools, and community groups across the north-west. This interactive performance challenges racial discrimination, highlights positive role models, and celebrates our collective history. It has been delivered to more than 5,000 young people across Manchester.
The full line-up for both teams will be made in the coming weeks. Buy your match ticket now for just £5 and watch this space for further announcements!