Exclusive: Hammers legend - love him, hate him, Allardyce is the man

HITC sub-editor Alan Dawson caught up with a West Ham United fan favourite whilst ringside at a Frank Buglioni boxing event.

Versatile hammer George Parris, now 49, represented West Ham United for over a decade in the 1980s/90s and so it was no surprise for him to be introduced to me Saturday night, by a mutual friend, as an Upton Park legend.

We weren't far from the ground he defended in as I met him at The Cow in Stratford during a pre-fight party hosted by the team behind Frank Buglioni, an undefeated super middleweight prospect heralded as one of the best ticket-sellers in the country, ahead of our pilgrimage to the nearby Copper Box Arena for a Frank Warren show featuring Buglioni, Tyson Fury and Dereck Chisora.

'Yea Alan, I'm here to support Frank Buglioni,' he said to HITC. 'This is my first time watching Frank live, my wife's been to a couple of his fights before so now I'm going to have a look. He's an up-and-coming boxer, seen bits of his bouts, he's exciting, he looks like he can do all sorts. He's the all-round package if you like.'

Conversation quickly turned to his own playing days, as well as the Premier League picture at present. Current Irons boss Sam Allardyce was one of the favourites to be the next managerial casualty earlier in the year but is now seemingly safe after overseeing a number of good results since a 9-0 aggregate loss to Manchester City on January 21.

'Even ten days ago we were troubled, looking up at the table and wondering where the next win is going to come from but now we've got three on the spin and look good! Four clean sheets in a row is great as the worst [result] you'll get if you keep your sheet clean is a draw, so let's just continue that and see where we finish.'

Our mutual friend came over with a young man, perhaps only recently of a drinker's age, ready to introduce him to the Hammers favourite. I instinctively stick my hand out to shake his before trying to pass myself off as George.

Parris roared, grabbed me by the shoulder and said yea, this is my twin brother - we're identical!

Still laughing, he continued: 'Listen Alan, people either love you or they hate you but he's [Allardyce] the man for the job.

'We'll have ups-and-downs… we're not looking at staying up but staying mid-table.'

One man not mid-table is Buglioni. The Wise Guy knocked his opponent Gaetano Nespro down three times en route to a fifth round technical knockout, elevating his ranking in the 12 stones division even further. It will not be long before he catches up with England's elite level 168-pounders such as James DeGale, George Groves and Carl Froch.

image: © Tom Cuppens

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