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Tributes paid to boxing coach Bill Brown
RINGMASTER Henry Wharton today bowed his head in sadness at the death of York boxing’s “great man”.
The York boxing fraternity was in mourning after Bill Brown, legendary coach at York Amateur Boxing Club died after a suffering a massive stroke. He was aged 77.
Wharton, who went on to be crowned the city’s most successful professional boxer, revealed that he was set on an illustrious career in the fight game by Brown.
Just days before he died Wharton, currently building what will be the city’s biggest boxing gym, visited his mentor in hospital.
He said: “I asked his family for permission to see Bill and I went there to give him a kiss, a cuddle and to say my goodbyes.
“Bill was a great man. He was like a father figure to us all. There are just so many of us youngsters in and around this city who owe so much to the man. He was a big part of my life and he always will be.”
Wharton was a teenager when he joined York Amateur Boxing club where Brown was head coach when the club was based in York’s North Street.
Recalled the man, who swept to an undefeated run as European, Commonwealth and British super-middleweight champion for almost a decade after he turned pro: “His knowledge was his strength.
“And his work ethic was just amazing. He just kept teaching, teaching and teaching until you got it right.
“He would show you and show you and show you. And I always remember at the end of the night that Bill would be sweating profusely because he always put the work in. He would tell you over and over and over again because that was his way – and it was the right way.”
Wharton also explained how it was Brown who told the teenager to move to Leeds where he would experience better quality sparring as he sought to advance.
Yet Wharton said that whenever he had a problem he would always come back to Brown at North Street.
“He would always give me little private sessions and if I had a problem he would help me to work them out. And that’s how I got to represent England and to the Amateur Boxing Association final.”
Now as Wharton surveyed the creation of his own gym at the old Regent cinema in Acomb, he added: “If any of us trainers can be half as good as Bill Brown was – as a coach and as a man – then we will go a long way.
“Bill Brown will be a part of my gym and will always be because that’s how it all started for me.
“He may be gone, but he isn’t from my memory. He will live on forever with me.”
Billy Wilson, the present head coach of YABC, also paid tribute to Brown.
“He kept the gym going in the 1960s and ’70s and right through until the late ’80s,” said Wilson.
“He had a great impact on a lot of youngsters in York. He was a proper old-fashioned coach and he was a good, good man. He will be sadly missed.”