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Peter Banasko – one of the true greats

30 October 2017 by Sarah

Peter Banasko. Courtesy of the Banasko family

Today we have a guest blog by Peter Banasko. He is writing about his father, also called Peter Banasko – a Liverpool lad who became a world-class boxer and was asked to fight before the Prince of Wales, Prince George and Lord Lonsdale. He later became an incredibly successful coach and manager. However, Peter also grew up during the era of the Colour Bar and this blog highlights the prejudices he faced. It is a fascinating local and community history and we wanted to run it during Black History Month. With thanks to the Banasko family for submitting it to us:

Peter Emmanuel Banasko 1915-1993

“Peter Banasko was born and grew up in Liverpool. He was the only child of a mixed marriage. His father, Isaac Immanuel Banasko came from the Gold Coast, Ghana. His mother Lillian Banasko, nee Doyle, came from Liverpool.

“He was named in the birthday celebration of 800 people who put Liverpool on the map. (Liverpool Echo 28/08/2007)

“He attended St. Malachy’s School and started his amateur boxing in 1929 at the famous St. Malachy’s boxing gym. By the time he was 14 he had participated in over 100 fights. At the age of 13, having over 40 undefeated contests to his credit, he claimed the distinction of being the first Liverpool boxer to bring home to Liverpool a British Title by becoming the schoolboy champion of Great Britain in 1929 and again in 1930.

“He was invited to box before the Prince of Wales, Prince George and Lord Lonsdale.

Peter Banasko coaching. Courtesy of the Banasko family.

“At 17 he turned professional under the management of the Liverpool Stadium Promoter, Johnny Best Senior.

“Some said he was the best of the best but unfortunately for Banasko he fought during the era of the infamous ‘Colour Bar’ that forbade any non-white fighter from contesting for a national title. Again this vicious prejudice was evidenced in his marriage to Margaret McNerney, a Liverpool girl. A 300 signature petition was actioned to try and stop this marriage; it was unsuccessful.

“He was the first black manager/trainer in Liverpool, indeed in the UK. He was a friend of Douglas Collister (United Africa Co.) and also Jack Farnsworth (British West Africa CO). Because of this by the early 1950s Banasko and Liverpool were a household names in Lagos.

“His reputation as an excellent manager spread to the Gold Coast.

“According to the boxing purists at that time the black boxers fought in a distinct ‘unscientific’ style; they failed to master ‘the noble art’. However, their performances in the ring soon shattered these stereotypes. Banasko was a contributing factor in this change of opinion. When opposing boxers where facing the ‘Banasko camp’ it was not the boxer they feared but Banasko because of his knowledge and expertise.

“Banasko gained the rank of sergeant with the Royal Berkshire Regiment. His request for a commission was turned down. He was advised he would stand a better chance of a commission if he joined the Indian Army!

“This prejudice came up again when Hogan Kid Bassey won the British Empire Featherweight title. He told Banasko in the dressing room after the fight that he wanted a change of manager. Bassey had been convinced that he would not get any further in his career under a black manager. Banasko, disgusted with this prejudice and gutted by Bassey’s disloyalty, parted from the sport he loved.

“Ian Hargraves in his article in the Liverpool Echo (November 30th 1993) ‘Salute to boxing’s unsung hero’ on his death in November 1993 summed it up completely by stating:

Peter Banasko… a rare talent – one of the true greats’ “.

Peter Banasko and the boxers he coached to success. Courtesy of Banasko family.

 

If you enjoyed this blog, you might be interested in our Black History Month events throughout October.

 

Felix Scott: a Victorian life

11 May 2017 by Liz

Clockwise from left: Felix Scott’s Royal Navy Record of service (source: the National Archives); HMS Charybdis, 1870; HMS Tamar, c1880

Today we have a guest blog from Jamie Calladine, a volunteer researcher working with us on the Galkoff’s and Secret Life of Pembroke Place project. Read more…

Real life super heroes – Natasha Jonas

10 March 2016 by Sam

Natasha Jonas wearing her boxing gloves

Image © Kelly Irvine

With the upcoming Afro Supa Hero exhibition we’ve been talking about real life super heroes and the people who inspire us. The Liverpool boxer Natasha Jonas is a great inspiration to me – here’s her story, in her own words:

“I come from an unconventional, freakishly large family who were all born, raised and live in Toxteth. In the house I grew up in I was the eldest of all the girls, but had two elder boy cousins. I adored these two older lads, they were my heroes. I was with them all the time – climbing trees, playing football, bmx-ing – and from that I gained a real love of sports.

The first time I watched the Olympics on TV I was 4. I was totally amazed and screamed for my mum to come and watch it with me. By the end of the programme I told her, with a matter of fact face “Mum, I’m going to be there”.  Read more…

Liverpool Grand Prix

2 July 2015 by Liz

trophy with a man waving a flag on top

Aintree Circuit Lap Record Trophy. On display in Wondrous Place gallery in the Museum of Liverpool

I’m an archaeologist at the Museum of Liverpool, so this blog relates to history which is a bit modern for me, but in my down-time I follow Formula One motorsport and have an interest in its history.

This weekend’s British Grand Prix marks the 60th anniversary of the first time a British Driver won a Grand Prix on home soil.  Read more…

Boardman thinks Museum’s a winner!

14 July 2014 by Lucy

Image of Chris Boardman with bike

Chris Boardman supporting the Museum of Liverpool in 2010

Did you know that the Museum of Liverpool is shortlisted to win the National Lottery Award for Best Heritage Project?

It’s a public vote, so we need everyone to get involved to help us clinch the top spot and make our city proud. You can vote here.

Someone who’s been a great supporter of the Museum since before it opened is former world and Olympic cycling champion Chris BoardmanRead more…

Shanks’ award to go on display

9 May 2014 by Lucy

People holding award

Curator Paul Gallagher and Shankly’s granddaughter Karen Gill with the award

On Thursday 15 May, a special item is going on display in the Museum of Liverpool highlighting the importance of one man and his success with Liverpool Football Club.

Bill Shankly was Liverpool Football Club’s inspirational manager from 1959 to 1974. He is widely regarded as the founding father of the modern-day Club, taking them from 2nd Division obscurity to an unprecedented period of success in the 1960s.  Read more…

High Seas not SW19

26 June 2013 by Sarah Starkey

Photograph of tennis game on deck of ship Araguaya

A game of deck tennis on board Araguaya, Royal Mail Line, 1924 (MAL reference DX/1201)

Well it’s not quite the green grass of Wimbledon, but a lack of space isn’t going to put off these tennis players.

Actually this is deck tennis on board the Royal Mail Line vessel Araguaya in 1924. The game was played by throwing quoits, rather than with rackets and balls, which presumably had a high probability of being lost overboard. This picture was taken by Miss V. Maughfling on a cruise around the Mediterranean. The Maritime Archives & Library holds a number of her photograph albums which show images of cruising and tourism in the 1920s. Read more…

Aintree racing

4 April 2013 by Kay

cover of an Aintree programme with racing cars on the front

Accession number MOL.2008.36.6-12602

Lots of people will be coming to Liverpool for the Grand National this weekend but did you know that Aintree racecourse also had a motor racing track?

Motor racing became increasingly popular by the early 1950s. Mirabel Topham, owner of Aintree racecourse, took advantage of this appeal and built a motor racing track. Aintree hosted five Grand Prix races, including the 1957 race won by top British driver, Stirling Moss.

This programme from 1960 is on display in the Wondrous Place gallery along with many items relating to the world’s oldest steeplechase. Read more…

Half marathon breakfast at the museum

15 March 2013 by Sam

Superlambanana and outdoor cafe seating at the Museum of Liverpool

Copyright Mark McNulty

Much has been written about the loneliness of the long distance runner. But what about the friends and families who support those runners? You get up at the crack of dawn, become a mobile cloakroom service when your runner takes off the warm layers of clothing and emergency waterproof that they wore on the train over, you cheer them off, and then what? You find yourself in town  with time to kill before your runner reappears across the finish line and suddenly realise just how little is open at the crack of dawn on a cold Sunday morning. Yes, I speak from experience. Read more…

Competition time

14 March 2013 by Lisa

Picture of open book

Beth Tweddle has signed a copy of the Museum of Liverpool book that we’re giving away

Following Olympic gymnast Beth Tweddle’s visit to the Museum of Liverpool yesterday, we have a little competition for you to enter.

During her visit, Beth signed a copy of the fabulous Museum of Liverpool book, Liverpool- the Story of a City. The book is illustrated with the collections in the Museum and celebrates Liverpool’s rich history and the people who have made the city what it is today. Beth is undoubtedly one of those individuals, as shown in her dedication and relentless determination. Read more…



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Welcome to the National Museums Liverpool blog! Written by our staff and volunteers, we’ll give you a peek behind the scenes of our museums and galleries.

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We try to ensure that the information provided on our blog is accurate and that appropriate permissions to use images have been sought. The opinions in each blog are very much those of the individuals writing.