Freddie Mills: light-heavyweight champion of the world, 76 wins from 101 fights, and one unresolved murder.
An iconic sportsman; a popular figure as a fighter, broadcaster and actor, led Mills to run one of London’s first Chinese restaurant with Andy Ho. A successful business venture, which turned into a nightclub, and was seemingly the end for the former orthodox fighter.
Mills was crowned light-heavyweight champion in 1948, and by 1965, he was found dead metres away from the restaurant in his own car. Police found the former heavyweight with a rifle between his knees, and a bullet in his head.
It was reported that the rifle found between the former boxer’s legs was his own; a weapon he allegedly collected from friend, Mary Ronaldson, following a fear he was in danger with gangsters. The gangsters being the notorious Kray twins. Mills was going to need more than a rifle for protection.
The Guardian reported how, David Wingate – the professor who investigated the death at the time – suggested that Mills was murdered, as evidence such as the boxer being shot in the eye is a strange incident in the case of suicide.
However, a different investigation into the death by James Morton drew a different conclusion:
“The Krays didn’t actually kill him, but the threat that they were about to move against him was enough to push him over the edge”
Morton’s allegations were supported by his conversation with Robert Rozzi; a man who knew the Krays during a spell in prison. Rozzi suggested to Morton how a fall out between Mills and business partner Andy Ho, led Ho wanting Mills out the picture, and out of the restaurant/nightclub; there was a financial reward for the Krays to remove the boxer.
“In July 1965 Ronnie Kray came to me and said that Mills’s partner, Andy Ho, wanted him [Mills] out of the club and that there was money in it for them if they got him out.”
Robert Rozzi, from the Guardian
Rozzi went over to warn Mills, the boxer allegedly did not agree with the warning, and was found dead five days later.
“Mills suspected Ho was stealing from him and may have confronted him. Ho turned to the Twins for help and, when Mills learnt they were going to back Ho rather than him, it was the last straw.”
James Morton, from the Fighters
In what was a tragic moment, and one that shocked London due to Mills’ popularity; the death itself remains unsolved, but this damming evidence suggests that the Kray twins intimidation played a major role in the alleged suicide of the former light-heavyweight champion of the world.