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Statue unveiled to honour Shotton Colliery boxer

A champion boxer whose achievements in the ring made him a local hero has had his talents commemorated with a sculpture in his honour.

Family and friends of English Lightweight boxer Maurice Cullen gathered in Shotton Colliery to see the unveiling of a statue created by artist Graeme Hopper.

The tribute statue unveiled at Shotton Colliery.

The tribute statue unveiled at Shotton Colliery.

They were joined by a number of civic dignitaries and Easington MP Grahame Morris.

The sculpture which now stands pride of place in his home village was modelled on Cullen’s original gloves.

The former pipe fitter made a name for himself in the world of boxing turning professional in 1959.

Over the following years he built up a record of 24 wins, two defeats and two draws. He held the British Lightweight title, defending it four times throughout his career.

I had met the family so it was a real labour of love

Graeme Hopper

He retired after his last fight in 1970 working in a chemical factory in Hartlepool before becoming a milkman.

He died from a heart attack in 2001.

The statue was commissioned by Durham County Councillor Eunice Huntington who spent years raising the funds for the sculpture to be made a reality.

It has been placed on the Ashbrook Estate - in front of the house where Mr Cullen used to live.

Mrs Cullen pictured with statue designer Graeme Hopper.

Mrs Cullen pictured with statue designer Graeme Hopper.

Maurice’s wife of 34 years Joan, said: “We are all very, very proud, He came from here and he did very well for himself, Hopefully this statue will help spur someone else on.

“He was very popular. He was quite a humble man, a quite unassuming person, - he would have been quite proud.”

Eileen Connelly, sister said:”I never thought it would be something like this. It’s really very special.”

Sculptor Graeme Hopper said: “The idea started when Coun Eunice Huntington contacted me to create something to remember Maurice by.

Maurice Cullen

Maurice Cullen

“After a few discussions, Maurice’s wife Joan gave me his original boxing gloves. It could have been a boxing ring but it was the gloves which were chosen.

“It took longer than I wanted it to take. But the gloves had to be perfect. I had met the family so it was a real labour of love.”

Speaking ahead of the unveiling Coun Huntington said: “It was always something I wanted to do for the community and has proved very popular.”

Graeme Hopper pictured with the statue he created.

Graeme Hopper pictured with the statue he created.

Family members and those involved in the project pictured opposite the statue.

Family members and those involved in the project pictured opposite the statue.