History | Aug 06 2019

On This Day: The heartbreaking tale of Benny Lynch ends at just 33 years old

He was Scotland's first boxing world champion by the age of 22 but his career was over when he was just 25 years old. Kevin Batchelor tells the tragic story of the legendary Benny Lynch
benny lynch
benny lynch

BORN in the Gorbals, the slum tenements on the south bank of the Clyde in Glasgow, 5st Benny Lynch joined a local boys’ boxing club, then graduated to the more famous L.M.S Rovers Club. But Benny wanted the glamour of the paid ring, so when a boxing booth appeared on a bit of waste ground in the neighbourhood, young Lynch asked for a job. He got paid five shillings from booth owner, and became a regular performer. Local trainer Sam Wilson was so impressed with him he got him work in the small halls around Glasgow. Lynch crammed in 48 fights in his first three years.

He won the Scottish flyweight title and boxed a draw with world champion Jackie Brown. Six months later, aged 22, he floored Manchester’s Brown eight times before referee Moss Deyong stopped the fight in two sensational rounds. Lynch was flyweight champion of the Britain, Europe and the world. He was feted everywhere he went, started drinking heavily and the three months of celebrating his world title win sowed the seeds of his ultimate downfall.

Lynch continued to win overweight matches, though losing twice to Belfast southpaw Jimmy Warnock. When it came to defending his world title, though, Lynch trained with his old zeal. He knocked out Battersea’s Pat Palmer in eight rounds, then outpointed Filipino title claimant Small Montana over 15 to unify for the first time in 10 years. His hedonistic lifestyle resulted in an embarrassing defeat less than two months later, when he was floored several times by former British bantamweight title challenger Len Hampston. He was saved the indignity of a knockout when his chief trainer jumped in the ring, resulting in his disqualification.


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