Brian Hughes, the legendary ‘Godfather of Manchester boxing’, has died


Tributes are flooding in for legendary boxing trainer Brian Hughes following his death aged 82.

Known as the ‘Godfather of Manchester boxing’, Hughes dedicated his life to the sport.

Born and raised in Collyhurst, I formed Collyhurst Lads Club in 1964 at a community center on Willert Street using Army kit bags stuffed with old clothing as punch bags.

Scores of youngsters joined and football teams and a boxing squad were set up.

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Within a couple of years the club had won the first of dozens of national schoolboy and national junior ABA titles and began producing a long line of national and international fighters

In the 1970s, when the old club was demolished, Hughes kept the boxing section going and he opened up a gym above the Co-op on Lightbowne Road in Moston.

There, Hughes went on to achieve even greater success, producing several British, European and World boxing champions, working with the likes of Tyson Fury, Scott Quigg and Robin Reid.

The trainer retired from boxing in 2011 after more than four decades in the sport.

Brian set up Collyhurst Lads Club in 1964

Speaking at the time he said: “For the past 50 years I have devoted my life to the club and unfortunately it has had to end for me.

“But I wish those lads every good wish and pray they become a credit to their families and themselves.”

Figures from across boxing have been paying tribute to Hughes’ life and legacy.

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Promoter Frank Warren tweeted: “Frank Warren and everyone at Queensberry are saddened to hear of the passing of dear friend Brian Hughes.

“Between us we made many champions, Manchester legends and shared many good times along the journey that goes back many decades.

Brian Hughes was awarded an MBE in the Millenium Honors List

“As well as a great trainer, master tactician and mentor to many youngsters, Brian was a talented author of many books as well as being a renowned boxing and Manchester United historian as well as a father figure to many in his local area.

“His legacy will live on at Collyhurst and Moston with many of his former charges continuing his life’s work. Manchester has lost a great Ambassador and Boxing an irreplaceable character. Rest in Peace and God bless.”

Former light middleweight champion Tommy McDonagh, who now runs Collyhurst and Moston ABC alongside another of Hughes’ former fighters Pat Barrett, tweeted: “Rest in peace Brian thanks for everything.”

Manchester trainer Joe Gallagher said: “Such Sad news to hear the passing of Brian Hughes a coach and mentor to so many that passed though his gym door. Thoughts and prayers to his family, loved ones & the team @CollyhurstABC.”

The World Boxing Foundation tweeted: “We at the WBF have been so saddened to hear about the death of Brian Hughes.

“A true boxing man & a gentleman. The sport was so much better due to Brian’s involvement. How many lives did he genuinely change in Manchester.”

Brian Hughes pictured with wife Rosemarie in 2018 when a street in Collyhurst was named in his honor

Former super middleweight world title contender Paul Smith said: “Thoughts and condolences to the family and friends of Brian Hughes.

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“Massive influence on the fight game in Manchester & beyond. Helped mold many champions and even more good, decent people. “Rest in peace x.”

Nigel Travis, coach at Moss Side Fire Station ASBC, tweeted: “Very sad to hear the news that Brian Hughes from the great gym @CollyhurstABC you have passed away. A true boxing man.”

Away from the gym, Hughes married Rosemarie and had four children.

A life-long Manchester United fan, he was encouraged to write a book about Tommy Taylor, who died at Munich, then went to write 11 other sports titles on various stars of the ring and football pitch.

In the Millennium honors list, Hughes was awarded an MBE for services to the community.

And in 2018 a street in Collyhurst was named in honor of his achievements.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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