Tributes have been paid to Samuel Lewis – The former owner of Sammy’s Sports in Bangor – who passed away peacefully on 3 January 2019, at the age of 90.
The Lonsdale Sports shop was based in the former Wellfield Shopping Centre and sold everything from boxing equipment, football and rugby supplies, trophies, mugs, football pin badges and even accessories for majorettes!
Originally from Liverpool, Sam was evacuated to Anglesey during the second world war at the age of eleven. The fifth of six children, Sam was considered sufficiently ‘streetwise’ and independent enough to be separated from his family and moved to North Wales, away from the dangers of the Liverpool bombing.
Sam had recalled his move to North Wales: “I remember the sirens, bombs falling and people dashing for the air raid shelters. I was too young to appreciate the danger, but glad to be moving to Wales, it felt like a great adventure, going on holiday.”
One of 40 children from the same Liverpool school evacuated to North Wales, Sam arrived by train in May 1941, which he described as an ‘exciting’ journey as he had rarely travelled by train.
After arriving at Bangor station the children walked to Menai Bridge where they were assembled in the local scout hall and then ‘chosen’ by their foster parents.
Sam, however, wasn’t chosen by a foster parent, he later recalled the experience “one after another the children disappeared through the door with their foster parents – the tidiest kids, the prettiest girls, the strongest boys, but nobody wanted the little black kid with a red cross suitcase and second-hand clothes.”
After striking up a friendship with Harold Jones, the son of the Renig Jones – the official responsible for evacuees in the area – Sam was taken into their care, and the funny, likeable lad was gradually accepted into the local community.
His experiences were later transcribed into a children’s book – Rhyfel Sam (Sam’s War) by author Glenys Lloyd – which catalogued Sam’s story and experiences.
After leaving Anglesey Sam joined the RAF where he discovered he could box, becoming a renowned amateur boxer at both feather and bantam weights. He went onto win the RAF Boxing title 4 times, inter-services title 4 times and also fought for Great Britain on 3 occasions.
His boxing success soon attracted the attention of top professional coaches and promoters, but Sam was unable to pursue his dream of a professional boxing career as he had signed up to the RAF for 22 years, the RAF refused to let him leave and he was unable to buy himself out of the Air Force.
A veteran of over 200 fights, Sam was renowned for a quick knockout, once knocking out his opponent in just 22 seconds of the first round, on another occasion he knocked out four men in the same night!
After leaving the RAF in 1968 Sam retuned to North Wales, which he now considered his home rather than Liverpool. Along with opening the sports shop in Bangor, Sam continued to be involved with boxing, he became a trainer with Menai Bridge Boxing club and later setting up the Cefni and District Boxing Club.
Following a disastrous fire the sports shop closed in the Wellfield in 2000, later reopening in Beaumaris.
Sam enjoyed his retirement on Anglesey and was more recently a resident at Plas Pemon nursing home on Anglesey where he celebrated his 90th birthday last August.
Sam’s funeral will take place at Bangor Crematorium on Saturday 26th January 2019 at 10.30am
Family flowers only. Donations to Plas Penmon Residents fund. Funeral arrangements by J P Turner, Bryn Hyfryd, Pentir, Bangor. Tel: 01248 352017.