Meet five top sporting stars born in Hackney

This part of east London has produced some great sporting legends such as Anthony Yarde, Phillips Idowu and Anne Keothavong. Here we shine a light on some of their achievements along with those of Eric Bristow and Ron ‘Chopper’ Harris.


Anthony Yarde

The borough boasts a wealth of young boxing talent at the moment, with the likes of Lawrence Okoile and Ohara Davies also hailing from the area. Yarde has a superb record of 15 wins from 15 professional fights, including 14 knockouts, several of which have been won at Hackney’s Copper Box Arena. He currently holds the WBO’s European and Inter-Continental light heavyweight titles.

Eric Bristow

Born in 1957, the Crafty Cockney used to practise his darts in The Red Lion pub in Stoke Newington and went on to become a true pioneer within the world of arrow chucking. He won five world titles in the 80s, doing so with a swagger and style that helped catapult darts into the spotlight. In 1993 he was part of a group of players who broke away from the existing darts circuit to form the behemoth that we now know as the Professional Darts Corporation, whose World Championships sell out to thousands at Ally Pally every year. He now lives in Staffordshire.

Phillips Idowu

The exuberantly haired Idowu hopped, skipped and jumped his way into the hearts of the nation as he inherited Jonathan Edwards’ crown as the king of British triple jumping. A magnificent career took him from selling hot dogs outside Leyton Orient’s football stadium to gold medals on the World, European and Commonwealth stage, as well as an MBE in 2011 for services to athletics. Prior to the London 2012 Olympics he told an Evening Standard interview that ‘Hackney made me who I am’ and in the same year he was an ambassador for Radio 1’s Hackney Big Weekend.

Anne Keothavong

Anne Keothavong
Anne Keothavong CREDIT: Pete Edgeler

Keothavong was born in Hackney after her parents fled the war in Laos in the 1970s and learned the game playing on Highbury Fields. She became a stalwart of British tennis, with only Virginia Wade having played more Fed Cup ties. In 2009 she became the first British woman in 16 years to break into the world’s top 50, following a career best Grand Slam result in reaching the third round at the 2008 US Open. She returned to the borough back in 2011 to open the new tennis facilities that were included in the council’s £1million makeover of Hackney Downs.

Ron ‘Chopper’ Harris 

There are a few memorable footballing figures from Hackney, including Shaka Hislop and Kevin Lisbie, but Chopper is perhaps the most famous. He began his career playing for the Hackney district U11 team at the age of just eight. His 795 appearances for Chelsea between 1961 and 1980 remains a club record for the man renowned as one of the hardest players in a notoriously ‘hard’ era of English football. After retiring he briefly dabbled in another sport too, working as a greyhound trainer during the 1990s.