Tributes are pouring in for legendary boxing trainer Brian Hughes following his death at age 82.
Known as the ‘Godfather of Manchester boxing’, Hughes devoted his life to the sport.
Born and raised in Collyhurst, he founded the Collyhurst Lads Club in a Willert Street community center in 1964, using army gear bags filled with old clothing as punching bags.
Dozens of young people joined and football teams and a boxing team were founded.
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Within a few years, the club had won the first of dozens of national ABA titles for schoolboys and national juniors and began producing a long line of national and international fighters.
In the 1970s, when the old club was demolished, Hughes kept the boxing department going and opened a gym above the Co-op on Lightbowne Road in Moston.
There, Hughes achieved even more success, producing several British, European and World boxing champions, along with Tyson Fury, Scott Quigg and Robin Reid.
The trainer retired from boxing in 2011 after more than four decades in the sport.
At the time he said: “For the past 50 years I have devoted my life to the club and unfortunately it had to end for me.
“But I wish those boys all the best and pray that they become an asset to their families and themselves.”
Figures from across boxing pay tribute to Hughes’ life and legacy.
Promoter Frank Warren tweeted: “Frank Warren and everyone at Queensberry are saddened to hear of the passing of good friend Brian Hughes.
“Between us we have created many champions, Manchester legends and shared many good times on the journey stretching back many decades.
As well as being a great trainer, master tactician and mentor to many young people, Brian was a talented author of many books, as well as a renowned boxing and Manchester United historian and a father figure to many in his circle.
“His legacy will live on at Collyhurst and Moston with many of his past charges continuing his life’s work. Manchester has lost a great ambassador and boxing has an irreplaceable character. Rest in peace and God bless.”
Former light middleweight champion Tommy McDonagh, who now runs Collyhurst and Moston ABC alongside one of Hughes’ former fighters Pat Barrett, tweeted: “Rest in peace Brian, thanks for everything.”
Manchester coach Joe Gallagher said: “What sad news to hear of the passing of Brian Hughes, a coach and mentor to so many who have passed through his gym door. Thoughts and prayers for his family, loved ones and the team @CollyhurstABC.”
The World Boxing Foundation tweeted: “We at the WBF are so saddened to hear of the death of Brian Hughes.
“A true boxer and a gentleman. The sport was so much better thanks to Brian’s involvement. How many lives has he really changed in Manchester.”
Former super middleweight world title contender Paul Smith said, “Thoughts and condolences to the family and friends of Brian Hughes.
“Huge influence on the fighting game in Manchester and beyond. Helped to 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 has left the great gym @CollyhurstABC is deceased. A real boxer.”
Outside of the gym, Hughes married Rosemarie and had four children.
A lifelong fan of Manchester United, he was encouraged to write a book about Tommy Taylor, who died in Munich, and went on to write 11 other sports titles on various stars of the ring and the football field.
In the Millennium Roll of Honor, Hughes was awarded an MBE for services to the community.
And in 2018, a street in Collyhurst was named in honor of his achievements.