‘Big-hearted’ boxer tributes

TRIBUTES have been paid to a popular boxer from a famous sporting family who has died aged 78.

John London, who was known as Jack, passed away in a Blackpool care home on Tuesday morning after a battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

He was the son of former British heavyweight champion Jack London and brother to British and Commonwealth champion Brian London, who also fought for the world heavyweight title twice against Muhammad Ali and Floyd Patterson.

The Hartlepool family, who were originally called Harper before Jack senior changed his surname to London, moved to Blackpool when Jack junior and Brian, 77, were teenagers.

Dave Garside, whose wife Melanie is Jack’s niece, said light-heavyweight Jack was highly thought-of, both as a boxer and a man.

Dave, who runs Hartlepool firm NES Services and is involved in boxing as a promoter, said: “He was a lovely man and a gentleman who had a big heart.

“He came from a boxing background with his dad as British champion and his brother being successful. Sadly he had to retire early because he had diabetes.

“His death is very sad news and all of the family are upset, but he has had a good life and achieved a lot.”

Jack was husband to Letty, who died seven years ago aged 70. They had been married 54 years.

He leaves behind their children Janet, 51, and John, 53, and five grandchildren. He was set to become a great-granddad.

His funeral was due to take place today in Blackpool.

Jean Dunn, his sister-in-law, told the Mail that despite moving to Blackpool at a young age, he always remembered his Hartlepool roots.

The 79-year-old, who lives in Hartlepool, said: “He was a lovely man. He was never a drinker or a smoker and that’s why he lived for so long because his fitness was really important to him. It was partly to do with the boxing, which was a big part of his life, but he also found out he was a severe diabetic from a young age.

“He absolutely loved his family. His grandparents belonged to Hartlepool so he always had a place in his heart for the town having been brought up there as well. In fact the two grandmas lived opposite each other.

“He was very well known and loved, both in Hartlepool and outside the town.”