Freddie (Friedrich) Boxer was born in Vienna in 1920, the son of coffee-house owners. He was the only member of his family to escape Nazi-occupied Austria in 1938. He travelled alone to Shanghai. He was interned by the Japanese in a Jewish camp after Pearl Harbour until 1945. He married a non-Jewish Russian woman in 1945 and returned to Vienna in 1947. He emigrated to England in 1948, where he worked for a match factory and imported matches from Russia. He worked for Firestones and built up his own import/export business with Russia, Romania and Poland.