Welsh Boxers Dai Bowen and Leslie Williams

Barbara Henry

Former Member
I've been looking for information concerning Welsh connections to the Titanic. Am seeking info on Halifax burial of Leslie Williams a native of Wales. He and his friend, David Bowen, were on their way to America to become prize fighters. They both went down with the Titanic. Anyone with gravestone number for Leslie Williams at Fairview Cemetery, Halifax NS please contact me. Enjoy all the Titanic sites like this one and for opportunity to input. I will have more to post later on serveral Titanic passengers whose stories I have uncovered.

Barbara Henry
Perry, New York

Geoffrey Moseley

Former Member
Mr Leslie Williams, a Third Class Passenger was my maternal grandmother's first husband. I was really pleased to see some comment about Mr Leslie Williams and would like to see his actual date of birth recorded. He was 24 when he died, not 28 as stated. I will endeavour to obtain his actual date of birth so this can be recorded. Mr Williams 4 grandchildren from his son (also called Leslie) are my first cousins. If Leslie Williams had not died when Titanic sank, I would not be here now.

Geoffrey Moseley
Tonypandy, Wales

Inger Sheil

Now that's what I like to see on the ET site - Cymraeg! I had a couple of articles in the Welsh newspapers a few months ago regarding my work on Harold Lowe (who was born in North Wales, raised in Barmouth, went to sea first in Welsh schooners and who spoke Welsh fluently), and was contacted by a man who has been doing some intensive research on the lives of the passengers mentioned above, Williams and Bowen. I don't know if he plans to publish his work, but I certainly hope he does.

~ Inger

Lisa Joanne Moseley

Former Member
Re: Leslie Williams


I'm Lisa Moseley. My father was his wife, lily's, second husbands childs, childs child i think. I'd just like 2 see if you knew anymore about him. If you do could u please send me some information on him. Thankyou very much.
I am a distant relative of David John Bowen who died on the Titanic. I believe that David was born in Treherbert c.1886 and was the niece of my great-grandmother May Bowen. May married David Rees and lived in the Glyncorrwg valley outside Neath, and then moved to Llanelly.
I am a great grand-daughter of May Bowen and granddaughter of May's daughter Phyllis Rees.
I am trying to gather information on the Bowen family in Treherbert, and discover his parents and siblings.

If there are any other relatives out there, I would love to hear from you.
Also if anyone has any more information on David John Bowen, I would be very grateful. I understand that he trained with Leslie Williams the other boxer who also drowned that night in 1912.

Chrissie Brown
Re: Leslie Williams

My grandfather told a family story that his father was a friend of Leslie Williams.

Mr Williams asked my great grandfather to name his first born son after him shortly before he departed for America. He did as asked, and my grandfather was born on 4 July 1913. His given name was William Leslie Williams. I don't think my grandfather and Mr Williams were related; they merely shared a common Welsh surname.

A final postscript to this story is that my parents named me after my Granddad. My middle name is Leslie
Clive mentions that David John Bowen was a feather weight boxer. Was he the Welsh champion? I know that he wasn't married (as some sites assume) as condolences were sent to his mother (not to a widow). If anyone is related to him, please get in touch. I'm trying to expand his family tree. He was my grandmother (Leah Rees)'s uncle.

Arun Vajpey

Leslie Williams and David Bowen are being currently discussed in another thread but that has to do with the general issue of class mixing (or not) on board ships of those days. I did some research about them and came up with some very interesting information that is more relevant to this thread. Basically it tells the story of how David 'Dai' Bowen was not really meant to be on the Titanic at all but fate placed him there instead of someone else.

I corresponded with Welsh Boxing site and various Welsh media outlets and received a detailed reply from Gareth Jones, the Sports Writer (with a special interest in boxing) for South Wales Echo. Following is the relevant information that I received from him and it is a very interesting story.

In the early part of the 20th Century, thousands of young Welsh miners emigrated to America to work in the mines around Pittsburgh and elsewhere in Pennsylvania. As there was a strong culture of boxing among them, soon several local American promoters took an interest and began talent scouting. One such man was Frank Torreyson and he liaised with Charles 'Chas' Barnett, at that time a staff writer for Western Mail, which also covered the South Wales boxing scene through Boxing News; Barnett was also a part-time boxing referee himself.

In the latter part of 1911, Torreyson wrote to Barnett, asking him to provide two good young Welsh boxers for a 'show' (a series of bouts) that he planned around Pennsylvania in the following year. Barnett picked out Leslie Williams and Jimmy Wilde, the latter then a talented but little known youngster from Rhondda. Torreyson accepted Williams but felt that Wilde was "too small" from a publicity point of view and asked for a replacement. As fate had it, that was when David Bowen came into the picture and got accepted.

Williams and Bowen were originally booked to travel on board the Lusitania (and not the Baltic or other ships as some sources claim) on 6th April 1912 but an expensive new suit that Williams had ordered was not ready on time. Therefore, the pair postponed their travel by a few days and were rebooked on the maiden voyage of the Titanic 4 days later. Sadly, both Williams and Bowen were among the lost when the Titanic went down on 15th April 1912. Bowen's body was never found but Williams' was; but due to its condition, he was given a sea burial.

Jimmy Wilde, who missed being on that ship himself, gained fame as a boxer over the next 2 years and went across to America. He was a huge and popular success and went on to become the World Flyweight Champion. Even today many boxing pundits consider Wilde to be the greatest British boxer of all time.

But look at what the above story means. If Jimmy Wilde had not been initially rejected by Torreyson, he (and not Bowen) would have been with Leslie Williams on board the Titanic. It would still have been the Titanic because it was Williams's suit that caused the delay and rebooking. If that had happened, the man now considered by many as the best British boxer of all time would have died prematurely but David Bowen, who was not originally meant to go on that trip, would have survived and perhaps made a big name for himself.

The final irony was that after Leslie Williams was given a Sea Burial, his personal effects were returned to his family. Among them was a snake ring given to him by Jimmy Wilde.
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