KINGSTON boxing coach Freddie Barr passed away on January 19. He was 88 years old.
He was an England coach, who took boxers to a sequence of Olympic Games, and a highly respected figure in the amateur boxing.
Barr deserves recognition for the hundreds of boxers he guided over a period of decades, including professional fighters and successful internationals. Bobby Wells, bronze medallist at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, was just one of the charges Barr brought through.
Freddie [pictured below] was a trailblazer, ahead of his time both in his training methods and the opportunities he created. In the 1980s he took an England team to box in Northern Ireland with Gerry Storey despite the Troubles. In May 1989 he took the first professional boxers to box in the former Soviet Union.
“Depending on what the person’s body type was, he could work out whether he was a front foot fighter, a back foot fighter. Boxing was in his DNA,” Matthew Barr, his son, said. “Whether they were good, bad, ugly, they all had confidence with the old man in their corner.
“He inspired confidence in people. He gave them all self-belief.”
“He didn’t earn a penny out of it. He just did it for the love of the sport,” Matthew added. “He loved boxing, he loved training people, he loved corner work, he loved seeing progression and improvement in people. That was his reward. Seeing how he could change someone for the better.”
Mark McCreath, another of his boxers, said, “As an England coach he had a better relationship with all the fighters than any other coach. He was always funny, a great technician and he was considered one of the lads by all.”
Freddie was in a care home and caught coronavirus that led to his death.
“He was big on skill, all Kingston boys, when you watched amateur boxing they could all move their feet, they could all get out of trouble, they could all jab. They could do all the basics well,” Paul Forrester remembered. “He had time for people, he’d see the best in people. He gave people a chance. He gave me a chance.
“He was as much a father figure to me as anyone and there’d be a lot of people who’d say that as well.”
MOURNING THE LOSS
Amateur boxing stalwarts Richard Walker of Chesterfield, Iain James and Alan Brightman will be greatly missed
FURTHER deaths are being mourned in amateur boxing. Richard Walker [inset], one of the founders of Chesterfield ABC where he was a coach for more than 45 years, has died. Dean Smith, chair of Chesterfield, remembered a “special man, special coach, special friend”.
“Wherever we traveled in the country, clubs, coaches, boxers the whole boxing fraternity knew Richard Walker,” Smith stated. “Richard has never asked for anything, but what he has accumulated is generations of people that will be forever in his debt.
“[Richard] gave them a sense of direction at a time when they needed it the most, all on a voluntary basis for the sport, club and people that he loved, asking for nothing in return.”
Two Western Counties stalwarts have also passed away, Iain James, of Dorset, and Alan Brightman, of Devon. James, a judge and supervisor, was a coach in the 1980s, starting at Purbeck ABC. He later became an official with Weymouth ABC. Alan Brightman was a coach and a coach educator. While serving with the RAF, he won the NATO Forces Championship in 1956 and 1957. He became an advanced coach with Torbay ABC, Newton Abbot, Apollo and later Mayflower. He assisted with the 1980 Olympic squad and was particularly proud of helping the team members from the Western Counties, Peter Hanlon and Nick Wilshire.
All will be greatly missed.