EVERYONE has heroes.
EVERYONE has heroes.
Some choose sportsmen and women, others are enamoured of great explorers, statesmen or scientists.
Boxing trainer Brendan Ingle has a hero few will have heard of.
He’s Keith Darlow, Captain to Brendan, and the former Northern Regional Director of the National Association Of Boys Clubs,
Why a hero?
Thirty five years ago Brendan Ingle was banned from running amateur boxers because he had professionals training alongside them and, although many gyms did it, the practice was frowned upon by the Amateur Boxing Association
Officials, anonymous behind a wall of old-school, blazered arrogance, banned him indefinitely – and his wife Alma who was a judge – without a letter or explanation.
The anger is still there in Brendan’s eyes today when he talks about the injustice of it all.
Then that well-lined face softens and the tones become reverential as he talks about the only man in the boxing establishment who stood by him.
Captain Keith Darlow of Barnsley.
“They all did have amateurs and professionals together, but Brendan was most successful and petty jealousies crept in,” said Keith Darlow who actually stopped being a captain when he left the Parachute Regiment in 1971.
“All the governing bodies in sport are the same and this lot back then made today’s FIFA look like amateurs.
“You get the deadbeats in blazers who think the thing is run for their benefit instead of the youngsters.
“It meant that Brendan could not be involved with amateur youngsters and when you think of the fighters he had as amateurs – Herol Graham and Naseem Hamed were both amateur champions under him – that was a terrible blow.
“Brendan came to me and I felt that this was a gross injustice. Everyone mixes together now and amateurs even get paid. The whole thing was a joke.
“I took up the case and stuck my neck out and got some of the more sensible people on the ABA to agree that this was rough justice on Brendan and the ban was eventually overturned.
“Brendan seems to think he owes me a great debt of gratitude but actually I was only doing my job.”
That’s not quite how Brendan, now 70 years old, sees it.
“Captain Darlow of Barnsley is the man who saved the world,” said Brendan with typical understatement.
“He is my hero and my role model, a man with class and presence, a proper English gentleman. When everyone else was turning their backs he went out of his way to help. When he walks into a room you know you are dealing with a proper gentleman, I owe him a lot.”
Sitting in St Thomas gym on a warm summer’s day the breeze through the open doors takes away the musty damp of the walls that have seen so many damaged and otherwise discarded kids come and learn the skills of life through Ingle’s homespun philosophies and discipline. Then there are the three world champions, six European, 15 British and six Commonwealth champions that have come through his tutelage.
Brendan Ingle may be 70 now but the scope of his conversation is still universal. Captain Darlow is patient and equally expansive – when he can get a word in.
Fidel Castro, religion, the British in Ireland, the Queen, the Pope in England, Gerry Adams, Nelson’s 14-year-old boy ‘Powder Monkeys’ at the battle of Trafalgar, Ian Paisley, deprivation, desire, pit work and depth charges.
The two men share a mutual admiration of each other’s achievements and character and they are old mates who, as Keith Darlow says, have enjoyed their three score and ten years.
“We are getting to an age now where we want to start saying your thank yous,” said Brendan.
And the rest of us are coming to a time when we need to start saying ours to such men as Brendan Ingle and Captain Darlow of Barnsley.