The Big Question: What is the legacy of Brendan Ingle?

Boxing Monthly
07/06/2018 10:23am

Iconic trainer Brendan Ingle passed away on 25 May. In our latest Big Question, members of the BM online team consider his remarkable legacy...

The message I'm hearing from people who knew him best is that he'll be remembered for making a difference to his community. Developing world-class fighters has been acknowledged, but that he directly influenced so many lives in his community has significantly impacted those who knew him. - Martin Chesnutt

Brendan Ingle was a hugely important figure for boxing in Britain. Not only did the highly esteemed Irish coach train world champions, most notably Naseem Hamed, but he also implemented an effective approach to style in the ring. With a focus on speed and movement in the ring and stressing the importance of balance and footwork, Ingle's outlook was highly successful. His legacy now also lives on through sons Dominic and John, who have gone on to train world champions too, including Billy Joe Saunders, who is very much in the Ingle mould of boxing. - Lee Gormley

It’s hard to know what to add about Brendan Ingle that hasn't been said already. Watching clips and reading about his life this past week, the outpouring of emotion and tributes brought home the incredible love and respect that the boxing fraternity had for the likeable, straight-talking and often controversial Irishman. The ‘Paddy’ will forever be associated with the ‘Prince’ – ‘the Naz fella’ as Brendan liked to call Naseem Hamed – and a braggadocio style of ‘flash’ fighting, as epitomised first by Herol ‘Bomber’ Graham and then by the likes of Johnny Nelson, that tore up the boxing rulebook.

Ingle, as well as his former pupil Glyn Rhodes, was awarded an MBE for services to British boxing. But the contribution he made at the St Thomas gym in the Wincobank community of his adopted Sheffield, helping many youngsters find a purpose and discipline in their lives, went far beyond the confines of the ring. - Luca Rosi

Within boxing circles Brendan Ingle is going to be remembered as something akin to 'the Father of the hands-down, switch-hitting style' (or the 'Wincobank style'), although true fight fans will know him as something much greater than that.

My own personal memory of a meeting with him is something I cherish. It happened at the height of Naz-mania and he was a very positive character who exuded a lovely smile and warmth. I hope people will also remember the community-based projects he led, which not only benefited the youths, but also helped improve the local area (and house prices!)

Years ago there was a piece in BM which had a wonderful quote along the lines of: "Ingle didn't just kiss the Blarney Stone, he swallowed it!" - and I thought that was both brilliant, and very apt. Rest In Peace, Mr Ingle. - Colin Harris

Ingle is revered in lots of gyms in the country. In the gym I’ve been associated with in various guises, the Ingle camp has often been used as a touchstone for boxing excellence. He brought a fresh new outlook to the sport in this country, both technically and psychologically. Whilst he very much had a style of fighter, he was more adaptable than he was often given credit for. Hamed was perhaps the most thrilling boxer to come out of the UK in living memory and his sparkling early career is a testament to Ingle’s ability and maverick genius. - James Oddy

To consider Brendan Ingle’s legacy it is necessary to start right back at the beginning. Not all the way back to the early days in 40s and 50s Dublin or even the time immediately after he decided to follow his brother into the Sheffield Steelworks, but more precisely to the time when the local Vicar asked him for his help in giving the untamed local youth something to do. It proved a public service and commitment that Ingle never really gave up on in the intervening 50 something years.

Without that encounter there would have been no gym at St. Thomas’ church hall; just a stone’s throw from Ingle’s home in Sheffield’s Wincobank. No Herol Graham either: the almost perfect boxer, cursed with one cruel and fatal flaw. Or, later, Naseem Hamed: the self-proclaimed Prince - a fighter that Ingle moulded from a diminutive and gobby seven year old into the featherweight  champion of the world. One that was able to fulfil many of the dreams that perhaps should have belonged to Graham.

Hamed aped the 'Bomber' inside the ring but reflected his hyperactivity outside of it spectacularly and despairing wrong. Eventually, amid the bombast and magic carpets, Ingle and Hamed's relationship resolved into acrimony. Despite his protégé's achievements Ingle was left with the feeling that Hamed could have been one of the greats.

We should also not forget the likes of world title holders Johnny Nelson, Junior Witter and Clinton Woods who also benefited from the tutelage and direction of Ingle.

Beyond the titles and star names Ingle’s legacy can be defined as a dedication to pure boxing and its aesthetics. A form of engagement, that when displayed by his most able exponents, lifted boxing to the realms of a balletic, beautiful game.

But all this really pales into insignificance behind Ingle’s quieter achievements - the lives that he enriched by providing them with focus, discipline and paternal warmth; when they had the good fortune to step through his door. Names not destined for the back pages but maybe instead for the court round-up of their local newspapers.

Ingle was truly a man that made a difference to thousands of young lives and that should be his legacy. - Garry White