Former boxing champion, 71, swings ‘massive roundhouse blow’ to knock down 6ft 4in thug who attacked him

November 13, 2012 | by | 0 Comments

A 71-year-old former army boxing champion who was attacked by a 6ft 4ins thug half his age floored him with two right hooks, a court heard.

Pensioner John Cokeley, 71, was at home watching TV in his slippers when he heard Mark Pearce, 34, rowing with his neighbour.

John, who is 5ft 10ins, went outside and told burly Pearce to calm down – but was punched in the face.

Former Army boxing champion John Cokeley

Former Army boxing champion John Cokeley

Mark Pearce leaving court. He thought he could tackle the pensioner but was floored

Mark Pearce leaving court. He thought he could tackle the pensioner but was floored

Pearce hit John in the head – smashing his glasses and giving him black eye, a court heard.

But John, a professional welterweight undefeated boxer in the army, got to his feet and floored Pearce with a massive ”roundhouse blow”.

Pearce managed to get to his feet but John gave him a second blow to the stomach – flooring him again.

The second punch kept him down and Pearce was still laid out with a dislocated shoulder when police arrived to arrest him.

Pearce denied causing actual bodily harm claiming he was attacked by the ex-boxer and was acting in self-defence.

But he was found guilty and  sentenced to a six month prison sentence suspended for two years at Exeter Crown Court.

Pearce was also given a 12 month supervision order and ordered to pay £175 costs.

Speaking after the hearing, John said: “It was 10.15pm and I was watching TV.

John's home in Devon, where the brawl took place

John’s home in Devon, where the brawl took place

“I could hear a lot of shouting outside and I realised it was coming from my friend’s home and he is not a well man so I went to have a look.

“My friend was in the doorway and this man, who I hadn’t seen before, was shouting from about 12ft away.

“He came over to me with his arms out and said ‘do you want to get involved?’.  He was shouting and swearing at me.

“I told him I didn’t want to get involved, I just wanted some peace and quiet.

“That was when he hit me quite hard. He said ‘do you want some of this?’.

“I said no, I’m going to call the police and he hit me again. Then I thought enough is enough, so I threw out a right and he went down.

“He ran back at me and I hit him a good hard blow in the side. He stayed down and then the police came.

”I was in slippers and wearing glasses. It is hardly fighting gear. A fight was the last thing I wanted.

”It is years since I was in a ring and I did not want to punch anyone unless I could not avoid it. He is a young man and 6ft 4in tall.

”I may be quite small but I am very fit for my age and I guess you could say I am quite tough. He didn’t know who I was and I guess he picked on the wrong man.”

The court heard Pearce was having an argument with one of Mr Cokeley’s neighbours at a block of flats in Torquay, Devon on April 25.

John, a former soldier who served around the world with the army from 1957 to 1968,
went to investigate to try and calm the confrontation.

John, who is twice the age and six inches shorter, was attacked but managed to get up and knock Pearce to the ground twice.

Both men were taken to hospital with John suffering a cut to the head and Pearce nursing a dislocated shoulder.

Recorder Brian Lett QC told Pearce it was “a disgraceful incident” despite Mr Cokeley being “remarkably fit for his age”.

He said: “He was able to call upon his professional training of many years to fight back. You assaulted him, the peacemaker, which I can only describe as serious.”

Pearce told the court he was ”afraid” he was going to be injured by the ex boxer, despite his age and size.

Pearce, of Paignton, Devon, was cleared of common assault on neighbour Robert Kell in the confrontation which led to the attack.

John added: ”I would like to see him get anger management because he could have caused the death of someone.”

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