William Ewart TINGLE (aka Billy) [1900-1977]
These last few months I keep bumping into the name 'Billy Tingle'. Ok so it's an easy name to remember, but I'm also struck by how positive everybody's memories of him are.
Here's the most recent example, when I read Mary Bloch's memories of life in Hong Kong :
Almost everyone in the expatriate community during the fifties and sixties had heard of Billy Tingle. He was extremely popular, and organized a number of extra-curricular activities for the expatriate children. They went to him for swimming lessons at the LRC, and cricket at the Cricket Club on the green in the heart of Central.
What made him so memorable?
I spent some time googling his name, and he certainly led a very interesting life. Here's what I've found so far:
The early days: boxing his way around the world
Amazingly, his records as a boxer are available online . He starts off quietly, with only one bout each in 1916 and 1917. He lost both times to the same opponent, Jackie Green, and would lose to Jackie twice more in 1919.
1919 and 1920 are his busiest years, with a total of 25 bouts. He keeps on boxing through 1921 and 1922, rotating between stadiums in Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne. He was winning much more than he lost, and his success gave him the chance to travel overseas.
From March to September 1923 he fights several bouts in the Philippines, winning the Far East Flyweight Title, and then the Bantamweight Championship of the Orient. Then the end of the year sees his first contact with China, as he fights in Shanghai in December '23, then again in June 1924.
In 1925 he's moving again, fighting in California, and next year in Texas. But now there are more lost fights than wins. He fights once again in Liverpool, UK, in 1930. It's another loss, and by then he must have realised it was time to move on to something different.
On horseback to China
There are lots of gaps between the bouts listed above, so what other skills did he have? His size gives a good hint: a flyweight boxer weighs 108-112 lbs, and later we'll see an estimate of his height at around 4ft 11ins. Just right for a jockey, and there's a mention of him racing at the Kiangwan racecourse near Shanghai in 1929 .
The switch to education
The story so far doesn't suggest a future in teaching, but that's where we find him next. (And as we'll see later, it was the job he was made for). There's a one-liner in a 1936 newspaper article  about the 'Public and Thomas Hanbury School in Shanghai', which mentions 'the present sportsmaster is a Sydney man, Mr Billy Tingle'.
War years and the move to Hong Kong
During WWII, he was still in Shanghai, and was interned there by the Japanese:
- I knew Billy Tingle during WWII and was in Lungwha civilian POW Camp with him from 1943 to 1945. He taught me boxing and rugby, sports that I played at school in England and in the British Army after the war. He was a great sportsman and gentleman and many of us owe a lot to him. My father once saw him box professionally before the war and, I recall, was impressed by his speed and agility in the ring. - Robert Read
It's not clear whether he just stayed in Shanghai after liberation, or left and returned, but several students in the Shanghai British School remember him as their sports teacher in the late 1940s. 
The 'Billy Tinglers'
Billy was part of the exodus from Shanghai to Hong Kong after 1949. He didn't waste any time getting back to sports and sports teaching, as in 1950 he's reported as the 'Chief of the Physical Department pf the Kowloon European YMCA'. The occasion is a speech he gave to the Kowloon Rotary Club :
He referred to the under-privileged children who, because of the shortage of space have received no physical education which, he said, is the most important part of a child's development.
Although several schools were fortunate in having well-equipped gymnasiums and playfields, only a minority of the thousands of school children could enjoy such equipment.
Mr Tingle suggested that in the future, after-school physical education classes should be conducted in various parts of the Colony in oder to enable those school children who did not have these advantages to have the proper kind of physical education.
As the following 'Billy Tinglers' prove, he went on to conduct those after-school classes with great success:
- I was taught to swim by a man named Billy Tingle who was like an uncle to all the children – he used to get young children to put their heads under water by asking how many fish they could see. In the summertime, when children would fly to Hong Kong to spend the long holidays with their parents, there were swimming galas, often sponsored by Coca Cola, with notepads and pencils as ‘freebies’. The notepads were yellow with ‘safety first’ slogans written on them, like “Wear something white at night”, relevant but easy to remember. - Maggie Black.
- Not only did I attend Billy Tingles Saturday Morning at the Cricket club, where we invariably ended up having lunch as well, but I was also taught to swim by Billy at the LRC too. I had the misfortune one saturday morning to have one of those corner flag spears put through my right foot. - Kevin Phillips
- He looked, in 1957, much like a spry, elderly, weight-trained and cross-countried version of that other Billy, Bunter. At the age of nine, when I left Mr Tingle's academy of self-defence, I could look him straight in the eye, so I deduce he must have been about 4ft 11ins tall. Mr Tingle was physical intructor and character builder extraordinary by appointment to the children of the expatriate gentry. He taught the Nobel Art to a select few after lessons had finsihed at Quarry Bay School and the Peak School. On Saturday mornings droves of red and white capped boys took over the grounds of the HK Cricket Club [...], in what was known simple as Billy Tingle's. - Timothy Mo [Worth clicking the link, as I've just shown part of the much longer piece: 'One of Billy's Boys: A Memoir'.]
- Billy Tingle taught me to swim ! Rule #1 - put your Head Underwater and Breathe Out ! - Annelise Connell
- As a young boy growing up in Hong Kong, I had the privelege of learning to play many different sports under the tutelage of Mr. Billy Tingle. That was in 1960-67. Mr. Tingle founded the Billy Tingle Institute that met each Saturday morning on the grounds of the Hong Kong Cricket Club. Under his guidance, we learnt how to play games competitively but fairly, and to look out for others less able or less fortunate than ourselves. [...] I am looking for any information on Mr. Tingle that can shed light on his remarkable achievements and to help me in locating former students of the Billy Tingle Institute so that the good deeds that he was dedicated to might be continued by his grown-up pupils. - James Alderton
- Billy Tingle coached me in HK 10 years later and on; but after a stroke died in the early 70s. I remember him fondly for swimming, boxing, rambles, and lessons in life: a truly great man. - 'hardendl'
- My brother and I were taught boxing, swimming and cricket by Tingle in Hong Kong in the early 50s ! We subsequently both boxed for Bedford School and my brother captained the 1st Eleven so Billy was quite effective ! - Tony Banham [Not the "Hong Kong War Diary" Tony, by coincidence there are two Tony Banhams with Hong Kong connections.]
- I was also a Billy Tingle boy. I do not recall him doing any of the training when I was there. This was in about 1969 to 1973. [...] Saturday mornings were much enlivened by his sports games and he did make a good contribution to health and sport. I also remember there was a high standard of fair play. - Gavin Shiu
The June edition of the 'Pinkun' magazine  has a good article about the Tinglers at the Hong Kong Cricket Club. It ends:
Although [Billy Tingle's] Institute's activities continued after the Club moved to its new premises at The Gap [in 1975], attendance dropped considerably, due to problems of location and access. Parents and Institute teachers were less inclined to make the journey and parental income dwindled.
The majority of new General Committee members grew less sympathetic to the Institute's cause, fearing that the beautiful new premises and much reduced ground area would suffer at the hands of too many children. But Laurie Roberts and I, both on the Committee at the time, felt strongly that the Club should continue to support the Institute and what it stood for and we persevered in helping Nan Hooley to run things.
Sadly, Billy had a severe stroke shortly after the Club moved from Chater Road and he could no longer take an active part in the Institute's affairs. Nan Hooley brought him up to the Club on the occasional Saturday morning but, having lost his speech and mobility, he got progressively worse.
With a lot of help from some of us, Nan ran the show on her own for a few months until Billy passed away, aged 80 in 1978, I think. Billy Tingle was active as a sidesmanat St. John's Cathedral where the funeral service took place. A lovely man whose unfailing loyalty to children and their physical well being was sorely missed by all who knew him.
There's also this memory that he was granted an MBE in 1986, but I can't find any other confirmation of it:
Billy Tingle died some years ago and his funeral service at the cathedral was attended by many of his old Tinglers. I was pleased to be at Government House when he received his MBE for services to the youth of HK in 1986. - 'Mo' Morgan
Can you add more?
He obviously led a remarkable life, and there must be many more stories and memories out there. If you've got any to share, please leave a comment below.