THE tragic death of former professional boxer, Bradley Welsh, has sent shockwaves through the city of Edinburgh and made headlines far beyond. The 48-year-old Trainspotting 2 star reportedly suffered a gunshot wound to the head in Edinburgh’s West End on Wednesday night.
Police have begun a murder investigation following Welsh’s death and friends, boxers, celebrities and gym-goers have reacted with touching tributes. Irvine Welsh, Trainspotting author and friend of the deceased said he was “heartbroken”.
Bradley Welsh claimed the ABA Lightweight championship in 1993, representing Edinburgh’s oldest boxing club, Leith Victoria. That title has traditionally been a gold-standard for British boxers and has been picked up by former world champions Anthony Crolla and Isaac Dogboe since. Welsh turned professional a year later, amassing a record of eight wins and one loss, stopping three of his opponents.
Welsh was known beyond boxing for appearing in Danny Dyer’s Deadliest Men and playing the gangster, Mr. Doyle, in Trainspotting 2. There were echoes of his on-screen persona in his past too. Welsh was formerly a notorious football hooligan and led a branch of Hibernian’s football ‘firm’, he also served time in prison.
Bradley Welsh won’t be remembered as a criminal or hooligan though. The good he did in the city of Edinburgh in recent years, as a reformed man, has touched thousands of lives. To describe him as a reformed man is, in itself, an understatement given the lengths he went to to help people in Edinburgh’s most deprived areas.
The Edinburgh native and owner of Holyrood Boxing Gym ran free boxing sessions for the unemployed and welcomed hundreds into his gym every week. Through the gym and charity organisation Edinburgh Helping Hands, Welsh was ever-present in Edinburgh communities. The Helping Hands foodbank helped many locals in need while their seasonal campaigns gave Christmas presents to kids whose families couldn’t afford them. He also championed free football sessions for kids in deprived areas of the city and got Scottish internationals like Leigh Griffiths to attend.
Welsh even holds a world record. The Guinness World Records certificate reads “The most consecutive boxing pad coaching rounds is 360 and was achieved by Bradley John Welsh (UK) in Edinburgh, UK, on 22-23 April 2014.” The record attempt saw Welsh hold the pads for 24-hours without a break, other than the minute between rounds, and raised money for disabled children in Edinburgh.
Livingston welterweight, Thomas Dickson, echoed the sentiments of many grieving Welsh’s untimely death when he posted on Instagram: “Brad you were truly one in a million! The amount he did for the people and his town of Edinburgh is only something to be applauded and admired. Countless children helped either through boxing, football and his charity work. Someone I looked up to a lot and was lucky enough to be friends with and receive advice from both with boxing and just life, would genuinely have helped anyone.”
Also among the boxers making their tributes heard were Stephen Simmons, and Jason Easton, who tweeted: “Absolutely heartbroken he was a true gentleman and always looked after me before turning pro. Rest easy big guy.”
Beyond professional boxing though, the huge volume of tributes being paid to Welsh on social media stands as a testament to his hard work in his community. As does the sea of flowers, flags and tributes already taking shape outside Holyrood Boxing Gym. Bradley Welsh will be sorely missed by his city.
Police have appealed to anyone with information regarding Welsh’s death to come forward and contact them.
Below are some of the tributes paid online by friends, boxers and gym-goers:
Can’t believe the news I’ve heard about Brad Welsh.
He was a true boxing man and things he done to help other people where incredible.
R.I.P Brad 🙏🏻🥊
— stephen simmons (@Stephen1Simmons) April 18, 2019
This is the Bradley Welsh that should be talked about the Bradley Welsh that worked bloody hard for years to help others. https://t.co/oZipBbOwwW
— Barry Dickson (@Radiobasher1969) April 18, 2019
Heartbroken. I made some memories @holyroodboxing that I will never forget and it was all down to Brad💚 I’ll always remember how he wanted the best for me and all the kids in the community. He was someone to remember. Rest Easy Bradley Welsh xx pic.twitter.com/XlmwTi89MG
— Aisha (@aisha_maughan_) April 18, 2019
No one will ever match what my true friend Brad Welsh did for Edinburgh. A legend and true hero who will be sadly missed by so many. 💔🏴🥊🙏 RIP Brad I will never forget you. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/3PQaVVIMXP
— Hit Me (@Hit_Me_Book) April 18, 2019
You to me are treasure, you to me are dear. 💚💙 Our coach, our motivator but most importantly our friend, Brad Welsh. 🥊 pic.twitter.com/mU1gUPhBnQ
— Leigh Mac (@LeighMac89) April 17, 2019
Devastated to hear the news that my good friend brad welsh life has been taken 💔😢
The work brad was doing for his community was second to none.
Edirbugh has lost a true legend 💚
My thoughts and prayers go out to brads family 🙏🏼
Rest easy brother 💚💚 pic.twitter.com/GrHuSPPsls
— James English (@jamesenglish0) April 18, 2019