THE local boxing scene is mourning the death of Mexborough’s renowned trainer Wilf Swindells, aged 64.
Highly-respected by all in local boxing, Swindells will be best remembered as the mentor to Commonwealth Games silver medallist Mark Epton, who lead the tributes.
“He was very, very knowledgeable and he helped me when I didn’t want to do that extra mile,” he said.
“It was the highlight of my career and all down to Wilf’s hard work. I knew him from being ten and I’m 46 now. He was a good friend and practically a family member.”
Wilf’s words of wisdom benefited generations of local boys. He trained the lads who now train the lads. He ran the Catholic club at Mexborough and the Athletic Club before working with John Rushton’s professionals.
Wilf was diagnosed with a brain tumour earlier this year and spent the last few weeks in a Mexborough nursing home.
New Mexborough training team Dave Hulley and Stefy Bull first started as a youngsters with him and Bull now aged 33, promotes shows in Doncaster and trains his own stable in Mexborough. Wilf helped out in their gym until a few months ago.
“He was with me since day one and I’m absolutely gutted,” said Bull.
“Almost every local fighter will have experienced time with Wilf. He trained the best fighters and made champions.”
Hulley added: “I’m just going to miss him and not being able to phone him up and talk about boxing with him.
“He didn’t come into the gym for a few days and I phoned him up. He said he wasn’t well and that he’d had a headache.
“We found out he had a brain tumour and it all just deteriorated quickly from there.”
Mick Wale, who now has a gym in Brampton, crossed paths with Wilf many times at Mexborough Athletic’s gym and paid this tribute: “Wilf was always in the shadows and never got the limelight that he deserved.
“He wasn’t a big bloke but he used to take heavyweights on the pads effortlessly and you could always tell he’d been in the gym because there’d be roll-ups on the floor!
“He was a tremendous man with a depth of knowledge on boxing. He could tell you the schoolboy champion from any year and he was so popular. I’m devestated that he’s passed on.”
Multi-national amateur champion Luke Crowcroft, aged 17, said: “R.I.P Wilf, what an inspiration. I could sit and listen to his tales all day long. There wasn’t a thing he didn’t know in boxing.”
Conisbrough professional Steven Hale said: “I can’t believe it. He was the one who trained me from ten-years-old. Devestated isn’t the word.”
Jimmy Harrington, a former pro, now involved in training added: “Not enough words can ever be said about the man.
“Everyone who ever had the pleasure of being in a gym with him will have their own special memory and way of remembering what he did to help them.”
Former WBO middleweight champion Paul ‘Silky’ Jones tweeted: “Great amateur trainer Wilf Swindells has passed away today from south Yorkshire. RIP Wilf. Top man.”
The funeral is next Wednesday at Rotherham Cremetorium at 11 am with refreshments afterwards at the Empress Ballroom, Mexborough.