The Lord Lonsdale Challenge Belt is boxing's oldest championship belt. The belt is named after Hugh Cecil Lowther, 5th Earl of Lonsdale He was the first president of the National Sporting Club, which governed boxing in England from 1891 to 1929.
Originally, the belt did not bear the Lonsdale name. It was known as The National Sporting Club’s Challenge Belt. It became known as the Lord Lonsdale Challenge Belt after the British Boxing Board of Control was formed in 1929 and took over from the National Sporting Club.
The belt was handcrafted from porcelain and 22-carat gold, and it had a central panel depicting two boxers in a fighting stance. In 1936, the British Boxing Board of Control issued a new belt, which contained a portrait of Lord Lonsdale on the central panel.
The belt was originally presented to the champion in each British weight division. A boxer could win the belt outright if he won three championship bouts, consecutive or not, held under the auspices of the National Sporting Club. (A boxer must now win four championship bouts.) If there were no challengers, the champion could become the owner of the belt by remaining the undisputed holder for three consecutive years.
Freddie Welsh became the first fighter to receive the belt when he won the British Lightweight Championship in 1909. It was presented to him by Lord Lonsdale.
Henry Cooper, who held the British Heavyweight Championship from 1959 to 1970, is the only boxer to win three belts outright.
In 1987, the Boxing Board of Control decided not to award more than one belt in the same division to any fighter. However, boxers are still allowed to win belts outright in two or more weight classes.