Brendan Ingle 'people's memorial' to include public square and walkway

This is how a 'people's memorial' to Sheffield boxing legend Brendan Ingle could look.

Thursday, 19th July 2018, 1:49 pm
Updated Thursday, 19th July 2018, 1:57 pm
How the Brendan Ingle memorial, designed by Gordon Young, could look (pic: Gordon Young)

Detailed plans for a statue and public square at Meadowhall, linked by a new walkway to Wincobank, were today unveiled.

A street close to the legendary gym where the much-loved coached famously forged four future world champions is also due to be named in his honour.

How the Brendan Ingle memorial, designed by Gordon Young, could look (pic: Gordon Young)

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The square is the vision of artist Gordon Young, who was a close friend of Brendan's, and sculptor Paul Vanstone, who created the figures of Blades greats Joe Shaw and Derek Dooley outside Bramall Lane, has been invited to create the bronze statue.

It will stand in the corner of a new performance space dubbed the Square Ring, featuring what Brendan called his 'magic and spiritual lines', used for footwork training, along with some of his favourite sayings and the lyrics from 'I Can Sing A Rainbow', which he got fighters to sing while shadow boxing to build their confidence.

The launch of the Brendan Ingle memorial appeal to raise 100,000

People will also be invited to add their names and messages to a cast-iron walkway connecting the square to Wincobank, in a similar style to the path at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, which is due to be created by the Sheffield-based Durham Foundry.

Part of Tansley Street, leading to the celebrated Ingle Gym at St Thomas, will be renamed The Ingle Way, and there are also plans to dedicate a room at Wincobank Village Hall to Brendan.

Bridget said: "Brendan would be delighted with this project because he was a great believer in music, sport and art bringing people together and this combines those three elements....

Former sports minister Richard Caborn and Brendan's daughter Bridget at the launch of the fundraising appeal to build a memorial to the Sheffield boxing legend

"By combining Brendan's sayings and his life's philosophy in an enduring piece of public art, alongside local people's names and those of people from all over the world, it makes that real connection with Sheffield and his love story with the city.

"It will be a place where people can go to celebrate and remember Brendan, while also engaging, looking forward and learning from it. He would have been absolutely delighted with that."

Mr Nelson, who credits Brendan with almost single-handedly making him a world beater, commented: "One day a kid and his mum's going to be walking down this street and they'll ask why it's called The Ingle Way, and that's where Brendan's story carries on.

"I wouldn't be the individual I am today if it wasn't for Brendan Ingle, and I wouldn't have been a world champion....

Brendan Ingle with former world champion Johnny Nelson, who says he owes everything he achieved to his former coach (pic: Andrew Partridge)

"Everything I achieved is a product of that gym, and that means Brendan's philosophy, his system, works, because of the world champions he churned out, along with British, European and Commonwealth champions, from this little gym in Sheffield. No gym collectively has achieved so much."

The memorial appeal is being led by Brendan's family but has the backing of Sheffield Council and bosses at Meadowhall shopping centre, among many others.

Mr Nelson revealed Sky has generously pledged to match donations up to £50,000, while former sports minister Richard Caborn said sports promoter Barry Hearn had promised a 'substantial' contribution.

But Mr Caborn said every donation no matter how small towards what he called a 'people's memorial' would count the same, and it was important that money should be no barrier to people having their names incorporated.

He described Brendan as a 'sporting icon', who had been a 'life-changer for so many people in Sheffield'.

"As an adopted son of the city, Brendan was immensely proud of the city and its people, and it is only fitting that the city commemorates him in a lasting and appropriate way."

A preliminary sketch of Brendan Ingle by Paul Vanstone, who is designing a statue of the Sheffield boxing legend (pic: Paul Vanstone)

From his gym in Wincobank, Brendan developed a slew of national and international champions, making him one of the world's most respected coaches.

He also transformed the lives of countless youngsters, broadening their horizons by sharing his passion for sport, art and music, and encouraging them to further their education.

The statue is still being designed but Mr Vanstone has told how it will feature Brendan's 'great smile' and may show him holding out a pair of boxing gloves for the next generation to literally and figuratively slip their hands into.

A crowdfunding campaign for a memorial was originally launched last month but a new fundraising page has been set up so donations can be channelled through the Brendan Ingle Foundation, meaning they can be Gift Aided and VAT can be claimed back.

Former lord mayor Anne Murphy, who created the new page, told how she owed Brendan a huge debt of gratitude.

"I first met Brendan when I was a teenager on the Government's Youth Opportunities Training Scheme. having left school with no qualifications.

"Brendan took us all over Sheffield and out into Derbyshire - to places I'd never been before. When I got my first job he negotiated with my employer to let me have day release so I could go to college. I never looked back. I eventually went on to do a degree course and I qualified as a social worker.

"Raising money for a memorial statue for Brendan is important to me and many others like me. Without Brendan's help and guidance our lives would have taken a very different course."

Mr Ingle, whose other proteges included 'Prince' Naseem Hamed and Herol 'Bomber' Graham, and who was made an MBE for services to boxing, died in May, aged 77.

Hundreds of people turned out to say farewell at his funeral in Sheffield Cathedral.

Paul Vanstone's previous work includes the Joe Shaw statue outside Bramall Lane (pic: Action Images/John Rushworth)
The Brendan Ingle memorial will feature the lyrics to I Can Sing A Rainbow, which he would get fighters to sing while shadow-boxing to build their confidence (pic: Stuart Hastings)