Commonwealth champion pays tribute to boxing legend

Walter McGowan on the attack during his Commonwealth title win over Killer Solomon in September 1963
Walter McGowan on the attack during his Commonwealth title win over Killer Solomon in September 1963

The death of Scottish boxing legend Walter McGowan at the age of 73 earlier this week had added poignancy for Commonwealth Games gold medallist Charlie Flynn.

The Newarthill lightweight revealed he’d been practising Walter’s famous left hook with his coach just two days before McGowan, who was living in Bellshill, passed away at Monklands Hospital.

Flynn said: “My coach Peter Harrison was telling me all about Walter’s terrific style and how he used to jump off the ground and hit opponents with a left hook.

“So I started practising a flying left hook. I was working on it with Peter just two days before Walter died, which was a weird coincidence.

“It was crazy that Walter died so soon after we were talking about him and trying to copy his methods.”

Flynn – who won his Commonwealth title at Glasgow 2014 – said he rated McGowan as being up there with the very best Scottish boxers of all time.

This is hard to argue with, as Hamilton-born McGowan’s professional career culminated in him winning the lineal world flyweight championship in 1966 with a points victory over Salvatore Burruni.

This win, at the Empire Pool, Wembley, came on points after 15 gruelling rounds during which McGowan sustained a badly gashed eye in the seventh round.

McGowan, who also held British and Commonwealth titles, in 1966 became the first Scottish world boxing champion to be named in the Queen’s Birthday honours list.

The MBE’s record included 32 wins from 40 fights, with his final bout coming in November 1969 against Domenico Antonio Ciloiro.

In 2002, McGowan was inducted into the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame.

Flynn added: “An icon of Scottish boxing has died, which is very sad, Walter was a legendary fighter with great style, raw movement and high speed.

“He was unreal, with brilliant footwork and great power in his punches, all the young Scottish boxers who came through used to try and emulate Walter, he was an all round classy boxer with a good jab.”

Flynn said that McGowan’s legacy was such that signed gloves and pictures of the legendary fighter remained on display in Glasgow Phoenix gym, where the 22-year-old is a member.

Flynn will next be in action against Huddersfield fighter Ismail Anwar at the Glasgow City Hotel on Friday, March 18.