Willy Collins memorial: Widow says there will be 'war' if headstone in Sheffield is damaged or pulled down

Willy Collins’ widow has said there will be ‘war’ if her husband’s 37-tonne headstone in Sheffield is damaged or pulled down.

By Robert Cumber
Saturday, 26th March 2022, 10:28 am

Kathleen Collins also claims much of the criticism of the lavish memorial in Shiregreen Cemetery, which has made international headlines and divided opinion since it was unveiled earlier this month, is being fuelled by ‘jealousy’ and ‘racism’ against the traveller community.

The spectacular tribute to the bare knuckle fighter, known to many as the ‘King of Sheffield’, was revealed to the world on March 17, nearly two years since he died after collapsing while on holiday with his family in Port de Pollença in Majorca, aged 49.

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The Willy Collins memorial at Shregreen Cemetery

Made using Carrara marble from Italy, it features two life-sized statues of the father-of-nine and comes complete with lighting and a jukebox. The monument is covered by CCTV cameras and under 24-hour guard amid fears it will be damaged.

Councillor Alison Teal, executive member for sustainable neighbourhoods, wellbeing, parks and leisure at the authority, said: “We have reached out to the family and intend to discuss changes which need to be made in order to satisfy the cemetery rules and take into consideration other cemetery users.”

A marble statue, which is part of the huge memorial at Shiregreen Cemetery, in Sheffield, depicts Willy Collins as he looked when he was bare knuckle fighting

The council has not gone into further details about what changes might be expected.

Speaking to the MailOnline, Miss Collins said: “The council have raised concerns because members of the public have been hounding them to complain about it. There's a lot of racism and jealousy involved because Willy was a famous traveller who was known all over Sheffield.”

She added: “There have been vicious comments on social media from those who hate the traveller community and they have left the whole family feeling very hurt and angry. People are threatening to pull the monument down or damage it, while the council is saying we may have to change it, but if that happens, there's going to be war.

William Collins, better known as 'Willy', died on holiday, aged just 49. A huge memorial to him has been built at Shiregreen Cemetery in Sheffield

She continued: “It's going to cause very, very bad riots if they take my husband's headstone down. I am warning the public and the council, don't touch the beautiful monument we have put up to remember my darling Willy.”