Thursday 13 December 2018

Tributes paid to Ingle after Irish trainer's death

 

The boxing community shared its love for Ingle yesterday. Photo credit: Fiona Hanson/PA Wire.
The boxing community shared its love for Ingle yesterday. Photo credit: Fiona Hanson/PA Wire.

Gareth A Davies

Boxing lost two faithful and popular servants yesterday. Dublin-born trainer Brendan Ingle died at the age of 77, after several years fighting Alzheimer's Disease while Dean Francis, a former British, European and Commonwealth champion, has died after a battle with cancer at the age of just 44.

Ingle, a one-off trainer, coached, cajoled and educated in a style all of his own, and leaves a huge legacy in British boxing.

A former professional boxer, the Irishman who moved to Sheffield in 1957 and set up the renowned Wincobank Gym on a hillside in the Steel City, went on to train five world champions: Johnny Nelson, Naseem Hamed, Clinton Woods, Junior Witter and Kell Brook.

Ingle was a pioneer, one of boxing's great characters, and a formidable trainer. Over the course of five decades, the Irish svengali used boxing to change so many people's lives as well as producing a conveyor belt of formidable professional boxers. Though Ingle had been suffering from Alzheimer's, he was still in the gym every day.

A free spirit, maverick, and great improvisor, he created a boxing style all of his own, a style imprinted on each of the men, from Hamed and Herol Graham to Nelson and Ryan Rhodes.

Even his big heavyweights boxed the same way. They were all light on their toes, in-and-out, masters of range and timing, each of them comfortable with their hands down by their sides. They were ostensibly matadors with gloves. Hit and don't get hit was their mantra.

Ingle and Hamed were one of boxing's most famous pairings. The Paddy and The Prince, as they were known, famously conquered the boxing world together, winning the WBO world featherweight title in 1995 and adding other versions along the way, before splitting in 1998. Since the split, however, they had not spoken for a number of years.

Hamed was of Yemeni heritage and his father had a grocery store 150 yards from the gym.

As Ingle once famously told Hamed. "It's no good being a Muslim on a Friday and a b*****d the rest of the week." Hamed had wanted to reconcile with Ingle for several years.

The boxing community shared its love for Ingle yesterday.

Anthony Crolla, the former world champion, said: "Just seen the sad news about Brendan Ingle. What he created at the Wincobank gym with his sons and others is a very special piece in British Boxing history. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends."

Promoter Eddie Hearn said: "Just heard about the passing of Brendan Ingle. A sad day for boxing, he did so much for the sport and the community. Our thoughts with Dom, John and all the family. Rest in Peace."

Francis, a former British, European and Commonwealth champion, died after a battle with cancer at the age of just 44.

The Bristol fighter retired four years ago with a record of 34-5-1 (26 KOs), having been diagnosed with the disease in January 2017.

Francis fought in the super-middleweight, light-heavyweight and cruiserweight divisions, falling just short of winning a word title, though he had the ability to claim a crown. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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