Sheffield boxing great Brendan Ingle honoured with plaque outside famous gym
The legendary boxing coach Brendan Ingle has been honoured with a plaque outside the Sheffield gym where he inspired everyone from world champions to ordinary schoolchildren needing a leg-up in life.
The cast iron plaque outside the door to the gym on Newman Road in Wincobank, where so many people’s lives were transformed after crossing the threshold for the first time, was unveiled to great fanfare this morning.
It stands at the beginning of what it is hoped will eventually be the Brendan Ingle Way, a path stretching from the gym to Meadowhall shopping centre, where there are plans for a public square and statue dedicated to the humble Dubliner who became one of Sheffield’s most famous adopted sons.
But the plaque’s unveiling marked a shift in focus from honouring the great man with physical monuments, following his death last year, aged 77, to continuing the legacy of his work within the community he loved so dearly.
The next goal is to renovate the tired looking playground beside the gym, where Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United today help run coaching sessions for youngsters and where members of a recently formed women’s running group meet to warm up.
The plaque itself is a cast iron square embedded in the pavement and featuring the lyrics to I Can Sing a Rainbow, which Brendan used to motivate his fighters and improve their timing and footwork. It was designed by the artist Gordon Young and made by Sheffield’s Durham Foundry.
Unveiling it, Sheffield Council leader Julie Dore called Brendan ‘one of the most inspirational characters Sheffield has been privileged to call one of our own’ and described the plaque as a fitting tribute to a man who not only forged four world champions but also transformed the lives of thousands of young people.
“We want to say thank you to Brendan and ensure his contribution to the city is recognised and lives on as a legacy for the people of Sheffield forever,” she said….
“This plaque is unique, just like Brendan was. It’s understated like him and is embedded in the pavement the same way Brendan was embedded in Wincobank and Sheffield.”
The unveiling was greeted by those gathered – including one of Brendan’s most successful protégés, Johnny Nelson, whom he transformed from a journeyman amateur to a record-breaking world champion – with a rousing rendition of the song emblazoned upon it.
Former sports minister Richard Caborn, who last year launched the memorial appeal for Brendan, told how fundraising for the statue would continue but the primary goal now was to help members the community.
“We’ve refocused to make sure we’re doing what Brendan did all his life to help young people at the bottom of the economic ladder and those who just wanted a bit of help to put them back on the straight and narrow,” he explained.
Andy Nice, chairman of the Brendan Ingle Foundation, said that while the gym’s success at churning out champions continued, it was Brendan’s record of working with young people to instil a sense of discipline and respect, and to impress upon them the value of a good education, that he was most keen to maintain.
“Lots of people feel the best way to honour Brendan’s memory is by continuing his work, and enhancing the playground he built will enable us to do that,” he added.
Brendan’s son Dominic Ingle said his father would be ‘over the moon’ with the plaque but probably a little ‘embarrassed’ as he was a humble man who never forgot his roots and did what he did not for personal glory but to help others.
“Dad’s greatest satisfaction was seeing someone who looked like they were going nowhere getting somewhere after he’d put them on the right track,” he said.
“There are still people like him needed who go out of their way to help others who are less fortunate. He’s gone but his legacy will always live on.”
For more about the Brendan Ingle Foundation, and how you can support its work, visit brendaninglefoundation.org.uk.