Benny Lynch battled his way out of Glasgow during the Great Depression to become world champion and one of Scotland’s greatest boxers.
Born in 1913 in the Gorbals, he joined a local boys’ boxing club as a 5st youngster. However, his taste for performing led him to an early career as a fighter in the carnival booths then popular across Scotland.
His professional debut came in 1931 when, aged 18, he defeated Young Bryce. His career really took off the following year, when he beat the more experienced Jock Joe Aitken on points. Between March 1933 and March 1936 Benny was undefeated, winning 35 of his 39 matches and drawing the other four.
He won the Scottish flyweight title in May 1934 and took the British, European and world flyweight titles from Jackie Brown in September 1935. In a fight that lasted just two rounds, he knocked his opponent down eight times, to the delight of the hundreds of Glaswegians who had travelled to Manchester for the bout.
There was some dispute on the other side of the Atlantic over the world title — a dispute that Lynch definitively settled when he beat the US-recognised champion Small Montana in January 1937.
Sadly, Benny’s later career was marred by problems with alcoholism and mental health issues, and he fought his last fight in 1938 at the age of 25. After his death in 1946, thousands of mourners attended his funeral at St Kentigern’s Cemetery in Glasgow. For all his troubles outside the ring, he is fondly remembered by millions.
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