Glasgow & West Scotland

Benny Lynch campaign: Boxer hailed as 'the people's champion'

Benny Lynch Image copyright Mitchell Library

Scotland's first-ever boxing world champion, Benny Lynch, was hailed "the people's champion" at a civic reception in Glasgow to help raise funds for a statue commemorating him.

Lynch won the world flyweight title in 1935 at the age of 21 but died, aged 33, following a battle with alcoholism.

The Remember Benny Lynch Campaign is raising funds for a statue in the city.

Former world champion Jim Watt said: "When he got success and a few quid, he didn't change at all."

He told BBC Radio Scotland: "He still had the same friends, he still had the same environment. And that's why he is still looked upon as the people's guy, and that may have been part of his downfall, unfortunately, when things turned against him."

Commonwealth Games gold medallist Charlie Flynn tweeted a picture of himself with Lynch's championship belt.

Image copyright Charlie Flynn

He said: "Every gym you go to, there's a photo of Benny Lynch because everybody knows Benny Lynch was the man.

"You are driving through town and you see big pictures of him on the wall art.

"People used to come and watch him shadow boxing - he had this unique style that everybody loved.

"You need to be a good boxer, but people like you for who you are. They don't like to see you changing at all."

Image caption Charlie Flynn and Jim Watt are supporting the fundraising campaign

Benny Lynch's son, Bobby, and his granddaughter, Sharon, who both live in Canada, made the trip to Glasgow for the civic reception in the City Chambers on Monday.

Mr Lynch said: "He loved the city and the city loves him back. He was a Glasgow boy - he just lived the life."

He told BBC Radio Scoland that he would be "more than proud" if a statue of his father was erected by the people of Glasgow.

He said: "It would be a tribute to them, that this was a Glasgow boy who grew up and became the champion of the world."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Benny Lynch during his fight with Small Montana for the world flyweight title

The campaign is also being supported by Glasgow Lord Provost Sadie Doherty.

Provost Doherty said: "Like Benny Lynch, I grew up in the Gorbals where he's a local hero. So naturally, I'm delighted to lend my support to the Remembering Benny Lynch campaign."

An exhibition showcasing Lynch's 1937 World and European championship trophies, boxing gloves, a painting of the boxer by Glasgow artist Robert Millar and associated memorabilia were brought to the City Chambers for the event.

The exhibition was unveiled by Jim Watt at the Gorbals Library earlier this year, just streets from where Benny Lynch was born.

It was the first time both trophies have been on public show since the boxer's death in 1946.

Jim Watt added: "Benny is an inspiration to every sportsman who wore boxing gloves.

"He is a true Scottish hero and was our first world champion, proving to everyone that it could be done.

"A statue for Benny is long overdue and I will do everything I can to make it happen."

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