Did you know that Dylan Thomas took the name for his Under Milk Wood character Ocky Milkman from a Pembrokeshire boxer?

Have you heard about the Powys fighter who retired while still a teenager having contested more than 100 bouts?

If not, those two stories, and a whole lot more, can be found in the final instalment of esteemed boxing writer Gareth Jones’ epic series The Boxers of Wales.

The 78-year-old historian and journalist has produced seven books covering the finest boxers from as many regions of Wales.

His last offering, highlighting the best pugilists of north, mid and west Wales, is on sale later this month and completes a 13-year project for the Boxing News correspondent.

Starting with his native Cardiff, Jones’ work has taken in the length and breadth of the country, covering the most famous, and not so well-known, names in the Welsh fight game.

“It all started back in 2008 at the National Eisteddfod in Cardiff,” said Jones, whose books have all been published by Ashley Drake’s St David’s Press.

“I’d originally been asked to write 4,000 words on Freddie Welsh for something the University of Wales Press was doing. I couldn’t commit to that and wrote to them explaining why I was pulling out of it. Ashley was working for them at the time and saw what I’d written. He asked me to come down to the Eisteddfod for a chat and he said then he was leaving University of Wales Press to set-up on his own and would I be interested in doing anything there.

“I’d had the idea for The Boxers of Wales for a long time, it would focus on those fighters who had won British titles or better. I’d done two or three chapters but put it on the backburner after trying to sell it to the London media before being told it’s too parochial.

“I offered it to Ashley and at that stage I was only doing the one book, so I opened it up to Welsh champions, but I wasn’t expecting there would be seven volumes.

“This last one was probably more difficult to do than the others because Covid meant I couldn’t get around the country to talk to people, it’s all been on the phone.

“But I’ve had a lot of help from the families of the boxers and it has worked out pretty well.”

The last book in the series threw up a number of intriguing stories, none more so than those involving Ocky Davies and ‘Nipper’ Pat Daly.

“Dylan Thomas named Ocky Milkman in Under Milk Wood after Ocky Davies,” said Jones. “None of the Dylan experts knew that! I knew Dylan had been a reporter on the Evening Post in Swansea and had covered boxing, but there was no record of Ocky fighting in Swansea at that time.

“It was only when I managed to get in touch with Ocky’s daughter did I discover they were big friends when Dylan was in Laugharne.”

He continued: “Alex Daley works for Boxing News and wrote the book Born to Box: The Extraordinary Story of Nipper Pat Daly, his grandfather.

“Nipper made his boxing debut when he was 10 and the editor of the Boxing News, known then as just Boxing, said he was the best young talent he’d ever seen.

“He moved to Marylebone with his family and was trained by ‘Professor’ Andrew Newton, who went about killing the golden goose.

“Nipper was ranked in the world’s top 10 bantamweights by Ring magazine when he was just 16, but he burnt out and retired a couple of weeks before his 18th birthday.”

His is a story that will never be repeated, which can only be a good thing.

Also featuring in the book are Montgomeryshire’s British light-heavyweight champion Dennis Powell, Carmarthenshire’s Kevin Evans, the first British boxer to win a medal at the world amateurs, and Wrexham brothers George and Bob Fielding.

n The Boxers of North, Mid & West Wales is published on October 28 and available to pre-order from the publisher at st-davids-press.wales