Bishop & Sewell

There aren’t many people who are immortalised by their initials  or just one name, but I can think of three. One such iconic figure was JPR Williams, whose death was announced sadly, earlier this month, writes David Little, a Partner in our Corporate and Commercial department who increasingly handles Sports Law cases too.

JPR Williams, or John Peter Rhys Williams, was a Welsh rugby union player celebrated for his exceptional skills on the field. Renowned for his fearless play and exceptional versatility, Williams was a key figure in the Welsh rugby team during the 1970s. His reputation as a fullback with a ferocious tackling style and an unyielding commitment to his team made him an enduring figure in the hearts of rugby enthusiasts.

You’d certainly rather play alongside rather than against him. He was simply, brilliant.

As this month’s obituaries revealed more about him, JPR, who played during the amateur era, so needed a professional career as well and became an orthopaedic surgeon, quipping in his autobiography: “I used to say that I spent half my life breaking bones on the rugby field, then the other half putting them back together in the operating theatre.”

JPR was also a fine squash and tennis player at university also went on to say that life as a professional tennis player would have been more lucrative, and also less physically dangerous. Something he regretted. I met him, as a ten year old, after he’d played my dad in tennis in 1978.

The phenomenon of athletes being known by their initials extends beyond the rugby pitch. Consider the indomitable MJ – Michael Jordan, the basketball maestro who redefined the sport during his illustrious career with the Chicago Bulls. Jordan’s gravity-defying dunks, clutch performances, and six NBA championships secured his status as a global sporting icon. To this day, “MJ” evokes memories – to some – of basketball excellence that transcended generational boundaries.

The other candidate for being instantly recognised by one name sure has to be Ali. The greatest boxer of all time, certainly in his opinion. Ali’s charisma, and unparalleled boxing skills captivated the world. His legacy as a three-time world heavyweight champion and an unyielding advocate for social justice cemented his status as more than just an athlete – he was a cultural symbol.

Those are my three suggestions.

Let me know if you can think of others?


Contact our Sports and Corporate & Commercial Law Solicitor

David Little is a Partner at Bishop & Sewell in our expert Corporate & Commercial team. If you would like to contact him, please quote Ref CB444 on either on either 07968 027343 / 020 7631 4141 or email

The above is accurate as at 15 January 2024. The information above may be subject to change.

The content of this note should not be considered legal advice and each matter should be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Category: Blog, News | Date: 15th Jan 2024

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