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DICKIE KNIGHT MBE
Sylvia Knight and family would like to invite all who knew Dicky to a celebration of his life to be held at MBC on Sunday 1 October from 11:00. Please feel free to pass on to any who may not have access to this announcement and who might like to come along?
We look forward to meeting you all over drink or two.
The rowing world was very sad to hear of the recent death of Richard ‘Dickie’ Knight who was a titan of British rowing. Dickie was born in Kingston in 1930, the son of Albert “Tiny” Knight, who was a keen skiffer, and mother Nancy. He started as a skiffer at Dittons Skiff and Punting Club but was ambitious to race on a larger stage so moved to sweep oars. He first started rowing at Quintin Rowing Club in central London and then joined Molesey Boat Club in 1947, aged 17. There he thrived and he won many regattas and heads and continued to improve. With MBC in 1959 Dickie won the Wyfold Cup at Henley Royal Regatta for coxless fours. In 1960, with his lifelong friend John Tilbury, he won the Grand Challenge Cup (championship eights) and Stewards Cup (championship coxless fours) at Henley on the same day – the first time it had ever been done. In the same year he went on to represent GB at the Rome Olympics, just missing out on getting to the semi-finals, coming third in the repecharge heat of the coxed fours.
Greater success came two years later at the British Empire and Commonwealth Games held in Perth, where they won bronze in both coxed fours and eights. Dickie also represented Britain at the 1959, 1961 and 1964 European Championships and at the 1962 World Championships.
In following years he won other Henley medals. In fact Dickie and John continued to row together until John retired to Worcestershire in the late 1980s. Dickie’s success was all the more remarkable because in 1962 he discovered that he only had one lung!
Dickie was frustrated at the failure of British crews in international competition from the late 1940s right through the 50s and into the 60s – the rest of the world had moved on. To that end Dickie was one of the founding members of Barn Cottage, which contained the best rowers in the country, all from different clubs, in the 1960s, although they had no boathouse, equipment or financial support. Barn Cottage were the first to adopt German training methods in this country and enjoyed great success. Their performances had proved the need for a national rowing team.
Dickie’s first attempt to form a national squad eight was Nautilus in the 1950s, where he was team manager. He went on to serve on the executive committee of the Amateur Rowing Association (now British Rowing) for several years. At that time he was part of the team that got sponsorship for British international rowing.
In later years Dickie became the ‘godfather’ of Molesey Boat Club and older members recall with great affection his raucous laughter echoing around the building. He kept a careful eye on the management of the club and encouraged its development and expansion. In recent years he was awarded the MBE for services to British rowing.
Dickie Knight was a big man both physically and in personality. His passing leaves a very large hole for his family, friends and for the wider rowing community and he will be much missed.
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