THOMAS "TINY" St JOHN DEAN
1880 - 1957
VETERAN OF THREE WARS
(Boer War, WW1 & WW2)
Dean's original business card.
(Notice how proud he was of his War service)
(Notice how proud he was of his War service)
(A similar card is depicted in
Chris Greyvenstein's book: THE FIGHTERS p.157)
The named six-medal group of
Anglo Boer war 1899-02
Queen's South Africa Medal
(Relief of Kmberley, Paardeberg,Driefontein &Transvaal)
King's South Africa Medal
(South Africa 1901 & 1902)
British War Medal
1939/45 War Medal
Africa Service Medal
Journalist Paul Irwin who spent time with Tiny dean before his death
wrote the following bit in The South African Sportsman magazine
of September, 1966.
"Whatever fond ideas he harboured of his part as a war hero, a calloused
old Sergeant took one look at him and said: "You're a stretcher bearer, little un."
And a stretcher bearer he was until the day he was told to look sharp and hold
the head of the Adjutant General charger while that splendid fellow reviewed
the British soldiery soon after the Relief of Ladysmith.
Here's what happened. "Tiny" was always ready to try anything once, including
scrambling on the back of the mettlesome charger - I reckon he must have used an
alpenstock to mount the horse - And going for a gentle trot over the veld.
That was the general idea in the DEAN brain, although it seems that "Tiny"
had never before ridden anything more fractious than a donkey on the sands
of Margate, the Mecca of every Cockney boy on an August Bank Holiday.
Result: The charger bolted and "Tiny", dying a million deaths as the nag
headed for a donga, decided there was only one thing for it - And that
was to 'Abandon ship", as it were. He took a header into a patch of thron scrub
- A header that eventually sent him to Kitchener's Fighting Scouts and
then Damant's Horse as, on his own testimony, an accomplished
Among other adventures, he was slap in the middle of the Battle of Paardekop and
came out of it with a souvenir that he carried for the rest of his life. It was half
an index finger, the result of a sniper's bullet that arrived as an unpleasant
reminder that life was real and life was earnest."
(by Paul Irwin)
He always referred to it as “the last war between gentlemen” and the engagement at Tafelkop was the one he most liked to talk about after a few drinks. A Boer commando struck the British camp at dawn a few days before Christmas and, as he put it, won on knockout before noon, capturing 300 plum puddings and a large number of Yeomanry regiment.
Dean was attached to the regiment as a first-aid orderly but he did not have much liking for the “millionaire mob”, as he called them. When the Burghers forced their reluctant prisoners to “exchange” their fine breeches, leggings and boots for their own rough and ready outfits, dean had the time of his life. He was even happier when the Boers took one look at the under-sized orderly and waved him aside. There was not a man in the commando who could have used either his uniform or his size 5 boots.
He was not as fortunate on another occasion when he volunteered to take medical supplies General De La Rey had requested after a skirmish, something which happened often in a war marked by the most amazing chivalry on both sides. A Cape cart was loaded from the surgical store and a Red Cross flag was attached to the harness of one of the mules. Just before he set off on his journey, dean bought himself a new Stetson hat at the Field Forces canteen and, filled with virtue, he galloped off on his errand of mercy.
The first Boer outpost gave him an escort to take him to a farmhouse, which had been converted into a rough hospital. A Scottish nurse and a Swiss doctor were attending the wounded when Dean arrived. The nurse glanced at the little orderly, whipped his new hat from his head, and pressed him into service as an assistant. It was to be several days before she would allow him to return to his own camp and when the escort arrived to take him back, a burly burgher decided to swop his own worn and stained hat for the smart Stetson. Touched by the Cockney’s crest-fallen look he relented enough to return the regimental badge, and to give him a leopard-skin hat-band and a two-shilling piece to make the transaction a little fairer.
Shortly after the war Dean recognised his hat, now no longer an object of beauty, on the head of a burgher and the affair ended with drinks between the two former enemies."
Boer War medal pair named to:
Royal Army Medical Corps.
Tiny Dean made sure of his place in history by
refereeing the first ever official world title fight held in South Africa.
September 4, 1937
Featherweight Petey Sarron vs Freddie Miller.
(Pic from the late Chris Greyvenstein's book:
THE FIGHTERS - A PICTORIAL HISTORY OF S.A. BOXING)
The late "Tiny" Dean....Reg Hasswell rates him,
on his day, as one of the world's top promoters.
(The Star. Saturday May 13 1978)
Tiny Dean was always to be found among the celebrities and here
he is (extreme right) watching Viccie Toweel in action against
Frenchman Georges Mousse in the company of the
Australia's Jimmy Carruthers, who shortly afterwards
relieved Toweel of his World Bantamweignt title.
(The South Africa Sportsman - September, 1966, p35)
"Fireman" George Anderson (right), famous old champion of
South African boxing, admires a bust of himself while
Tiny Dean looks on.
(The South African Sportsman - September, 1966, p37)
The following is an unnamed bronze tablet in original box.
The pic shows the obverse & reverse - 60mm x 48mm.
The tablet bears a maker's mark "A.M." as well as
the word 'BRONZE" stamped on the edge.
THOMAS ST. JOHN DEAN
OLYMPIC GAMES BOXING
In 1924 "Tiny" Dean managed the Springbok boxers at the
Olympic Games in Paris and officiated as a judge and referee.
(Seated in the middle)
(Pic from the late Chris Greyvenstein's book:
THE FIGHTERS - A PICTORIAL HISTORY OF S.A. BOXING.)
Button-hole badge from the PARIS 1924 Olympic Games.
(Depicting the Union flag: by FATTORINI & SONS, BRADFORD)
One of the highlights of his career was the instance when as manager
of the 1924 Paris Olympiad Boxing team, he literally talked the
great Willie Smith into a winner's medal.
(Herewith the story by Paul Irwin as in The S.A. Sportsman, Sept 1966)
"Willie was out on his own in the Bantamweight division that Olympic year.
He was odds-on favourite to win the final - If he was on time for the
official weigh-in, which he wasn't.
On the hour Willie was due to climb on the scales, he was away near
the top of the Eiffel Tower on a sightseeing trip.
"Smit! Smit! Africa du Suid!"
shrieked a French official, but in vain. So "Tiny" played for time.
Yes, for 15 agonising minutes, while frantic search parties were
sent out to look for Willie, our Mr Dean talked and Talked to prevent
the fighter's disqualifiction.
Finally, Willie Smith strolled into the hall as "Tiny" appealed for just 30 seconds
more grace. Next thing the wonderful Willie stripped down, made the 118 lb limit,
and went into the ring to win an Olympic medal in a canter."
A silk handkerchief from Amsterdam 1928.
(Depicting a javelin thrower - No Olympic rings but
certainly coinciding with the IXth Olympiad.)
"Tiny" Dean's original referee badge from the
1936 Olympics in Berlin.
(Maker: L.CHR.LAUER NÜRNBERG - BERLIN)
(Total length with ribbon = 114mm)
A numbered participant's badge from Berlin 1936.
A high quality enamelled "Springbok" badge as
worn by the South African Olympic team - BERLIN 1936.
(48mm x 36mm)
Herewith the reverses of two versions of the enamelled
Springbok team badges for the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games.
The example on the left for wear via ribbon and
the other example in the brooch-style for wear on the chest.
Male & female variations.
(Maker: E.GUTENKUNST BERLIN,SW68)
Participant badge of the XIV OLYMPIAD LONDON 1948
(It appears unnumbered & unmarked)
(32mm wide x 84mm long incl. ribbon)
Dean was a member of the Jury d’ Appel at
the XIVth Olympiad in London in 1948.
This is his original arm band as worn at the Games.
(Thick starched cloth, strapped to the upper arm of the official)
The following medal and what appears to be a neck
scarf fastener of some sort, both bear the emblem of
the Italian Boxing federation - Federazione Pugilistica Italiana (FPI)
Decorated with enamel and including the Olympic rings emblem.
These Italian items might bear a relation to the following incident
from the 1924 Paris Games, as relayed to Chris Greyvenstein.
"Attending a meeting in connection with the Olympic Games
in Paris in 1924 for instance, Dean objected to the fact that France,
England and Italy had entered two boxers each in a certain weight division.
"It's not sporting, " Dean declared.
Count Volpi, the Italian delegate, immediately jumped up
and took the strongest exception to the remark.
"Monsieur le president, " he shouted.
"This man, he say I'm not sportsman !
No one, he can say that. He must fight me the duel !"
Dean rose to the occasion with superb aplomb.
"Mr President, " he replied. "I believe the challenged party has the
right of choosing the weapons to be used in a duel. I accept Count Volpi's
challenge, the weapons to be glasses in the bar after the meeting !"
The Italian burst out laughing and accepted the challenge. To the
South African delegate's dismay the Count proved the better drinker
and the drinks cost him four pounds sixteen shillings, a big sum for those days."
Interesting "Tiny" Dean facts:
He was a stretcher bearer at the Battle of Paardeberg when
Boer General Piet Cronje was captured by Lord Roberts.
He wrote Boxing news under pseudonyms for various newspapers.
“Long Melford” for the Rand Daily mail, “Lavengro” for the Sunday Times
and “straight left” for the Star.
The infamous Robey Leibrandt was a member of the
1936 South African Olympic boxing team.
Leibrandt was sentenced to death for high treason - Later commuted to life.
One of the biggest controversies in Olympic Boxing
history befell another South African boxer at the 1936 Games.
Lightweight Thomas Hamilton-Brown of South Africa, after losing a first-round split decision, went on an eating binge. No big deal, right? Wrong! It was discovered that one of the judges had reversed his scores and Brown was actually the winner ... but he was unable to make weight for his next bout and was disqualified!
The 1936 Olympics was the 1st time the new amateur referee rule was applied.
Allowing the referee to officiate within the ropes - Previously he directed
the contest from an elevated seat at the ring-side.
Dean was a judge in the final of the Welter-weight contest.
He also refereed and judged numerous bouts in Berlin 1936.
On September 4, 1937 Dean made history by refereeing the
"Tiny" was 77 when he died in a Johannesburg nursing home on 24 April, 1957.
Further entries for "Tiny" Dean appear on the SUPERSPORT
site, mostly by famed boxing journalist, Ron Jackson.