Boxing legend Hugh was a champion – in every sense of the word

Hugh Docherty
Hugh Docherty

TRIBUTES have been paid to a local boxing legend who sadly passed away at the age of 91.

Hugh Docherty – who helped set up Kirkintilloch Amateur Boxing Club in 1967 – was born in the town’s Union Street in 1920, where he was brought up by his grandparents and attended St Ninian’s School.

Despite being a promising pupil, he was forced to leave at the age of 14 to take care of his grandmother after his grandfather died.

He joined the Lion Foundry as a moulder – the start of a varied career which would see him work on the railways in Springburn, as a cocktail barman at Glasgow’s glitzy Central Hotel and as a nurse in Lennox Castle Hospital.

He even had a spell working as a hall porter at the luxurious Gleneagles Hotel, where he rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous including Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Sean Connery.

He married wife Elizabeth in 1957 and they had three children – Hugh, Marie and Jean – and three grandchildren.

The other love of his life was boxing, inspired by his Uncle Hughie, whose nickname in the ring was ‘KO Docherty’. They trained at the old Scout Hall at Holy Family and St Ninian’s Parish Church.

Son Hugh told the Herald: “He must have had over 100 contests, but he never went in for championships because they didn’t pay as well as other fights – he used it as a way of supporting his family.

“He used to tell all the young lads that, even though he’d fought the best, he’d never had a bleeding nose or a black eye.”

He added: “In 1967 Uncle Hughie asked my father whether he would help him start a boxing club at St Ninian’s and he told him he’d give him six months.

“That six months turned into 45 years!”

The club has been a huge success over the decades, producing many fine fighters including Jim Pender, who was nine-times Scottish Champion, British Champion and fought for European and Commonwealth belts.

Hugh, who is now club secretary, said: “He didn’t just coach and train the boys. He always had a story for them and looked after them, making sure they were never in danger in the ring.

“He always said that everybody is their mother’s son and you have to watch out for them.”

Hugh passed away peacefully at the family home on Thursday, January 5.

His son said: “Just six weeks before he died he had a night at the casino. His last hand was a straight flush and he won about £150 so he went out in a blaze of glory.”

His funeral service was held at St Flannan’s Church on Friday, January 13, after which he was buried next to his Uncle Hughie at the Old Aisle Cemetery, Kirkintilloch.

Former amateur boxing champ Jim Pender said: “He was a real inspiration and his dedication to boxing was outstanding. He will be sadly missed.”