Jackie Jenkins 25 September 1913- 25 September 2003
Members of three Piha clubs – bowling club, surf club and RSA – were saddened by the death on 25 September 2003 of Jackie Jenkins, aged 80. A quiet, self-effacing man, with an engaging sense of humour, Jackie had a sporting history as distinguished as any of the elite sportsmen who came to Piha in the 1930s. His chosen sport was boxing, which he took up at the age of 13 when living at Gisborne with his family.
In 1935 the family moved to Arch, Hill, Auckland. Tutored by Eugene Donovan, from 1938 Jenkins won an astonishing number of amateur boxing titles, in paperweight, bantamweight, featherweight, welterweight and lightweight classes. Described by those who saw him as a brilliant and consummate boxer he regularly won the title of most scientific practitioner of the code. By 1946, when he was 23 years old, he was described as ‘the country’s outstanding amateur fighter…it is a tribute to his skill that his face is practically unmarked. He bears no apparent scars from the numerous ring battles in which he has engaged.’
He was only defeated about five times in 140 contests and in 1942 won the New Zealand welterweight title and in 1946 the lightweight title.
In the Second World War Jackie joined the army but was recalled by his former employer for essential industry. He later joined Dominion Motors as a welder and in 1947 was badly burned so that he was unable to box for many months, thus missing out on selection for the 1948 Olympic Games. He turned professional in 1949 and had some significant wins in New Zealand and overseas.
He was introduced to Piha in 1939 by wrestler and surf club member Hadyn Way and joined the Piha Surf Club in 1941. His love for Piha was instant and he bought a Rayner Road section in 1939, paying it off weekly. In 1952 friends helped him build Castel Fisticana where he lived until he recently moved into the Aaron Court resthome.
In 1962 he transferred his sporting talents to the Piha Bowling Club where he won the first year singles in the year he joined. He went on to win many tournaments, his last in 2001 playing in drawn pairs with Graham Ashdown. He was notable throughout the Auckland bowling scene for his gentlemanly and sportsmanlike demeanour on the green, a strength that had won him so much admiration in his boxing days. He was a life member of the Piha club.
Jackie also possessed another surprising talent. He was a very good photographer and made many sensitive black and white portraits of Piha that perfectly captured the moods of the skies and seas of the Western ocean.
The Piha Bowling Club has a cabinet displaying Jackie’s trophies. More have been found as his house was cleaned out including a belt, training mits, and his boxing boots. These will join the other items at the bowling club as a lasting tribute to a good friend and great sporting champion.