British boxing great Ken Buchanan dies aged 77 after battling dementia
Boxing great Ken Buchanan dies aged 77 a year after it was announced he was battling dementia
- Boxer Ken Buchanan, 77, passed away ‘peacefully’ in his sleep this morning
- It comes a year after it was revealed he was suffering with dementia
The British boxing great Ken Buchanan has died at the age of 77 a year after it was revealed he was suffering from dementia and living in a care home.
The Ken Buchanan MBE Foundation announced his death on Facebook and said he ‘passed away peacefully’ in his sleep this morning.
The post said: ‘It’s with great sadness that we have to inform you that Ken Buchanan passed away peacefully in his sleep this morning.
‘Further announcements will come and please give the family some time to process this sad news. RIP Ken, always a gentleman and one of the best champions we will ever see.’
Buchanan, who was born in Edinburgh, became the undisputed world lightweight champion in 1971 and won his first 33 fights, finishing his career with a 61-8 win-loss record.
The British boxing great Ken Buchanan (pictured) has died at the age of 77 a year after it was revealed he was suffering from dementia and living in a care home. Pictured: Buchanan in 2021
Buchanan (left), who was born in Edinburgh, became the undisputed world lightweight champion in 1971 and won his first 33 fights, finishing his career with a 61-8 win-loss record
Josh Taylor, who emulated Buchanan as undisputed light-welterweight world champion, said on Twitter: ‘I’m saddened to hear the news of the passing of my hero & Scotland’s greatest ever champ, whom I take such inspiration from. ‘RIP Ken Buchanan, God bless your soul.’
Buchanan won the WBA lightweight title in 1970 by defeating Ismael Laguna in a famous fight in Puerto Rico and added the WBC crown the following year with victory over Ruben Navarro.
He was stripped of the WBC title for failing to defend it against Pedro Carrasco and then lost the WBA belt when he controversially suffered just a second defeat against the great Roberto Duran. Buchanan fought for the final time in 1982.
He was made an MBE in 1972 and was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame and the Scottish Sport Hall of Fame, while a statue of him in his home city of Edinburgh was unveiled last year.
KEN BUCHANAN: A TRUE BOXING GREAT WHO HAD BATTLES IN AND OUT OF THE RING
Buchanan was born in June 1945 and grew up in a council house in Portobello, Edinburgh.
He vowed to become world champion at the age of eight after watching a film about American boxer Joe Louis and received support from his father Tommy, who would be in his corner as trainer during every fight.
Buchanan began training at the Sparta Club and had major amateur success before turning professional in 1965, winning the British title with his 24th straight win.
His skill for fast jabs, constant movement and courage helped him rack up more wins and the death of his mother at the age of 51 strengthened his resolve to become world champion.
He made even more sacrifices after his first defeat, in a European title fight in Madrid in 1970, and took the World Boxing Association title from Panamanian Ismael Laguna after 15 gruelling rounds in 50C heat in Puerto Rico.
The triumph was largely overlooked in Britain and Buchanan was hurt at the underwhelming welcome home, although wife Carol introduced him to their newborn son, Mark.
Before his first defence, Buchanan topped the bill above Muhammad Ali at boxing’s most exalted venue, Madison Square Garden in New York, although he allowed his colleague to share his dressing room.
Buchanan was recognised as undisputed champion when he beat American Ruben Navarro comfortably on points in Los Angeles to add the World Boxing Council belt.
This time thousands lined the streets as he travelled from Edinburgh Airport to a civic reception on an open-top bus.
Buchanan settled for topping the bill again at Madison Square Garden, where he defended his title with another win over Laguna despite heavy swelling, which was relieved with the help of a razor. He was later told the incident inspired a similar scene in film Rocky.
Buchanan returned to New York to fight the undefeated Duran. The Scot felt he was getting the better of his opponent when controversy struck, although reports from the time claimed the Panamanian was well ahead with the judges.
Duran’s manager promised a rematch and Buchanan pressed his case by producing two more impressive wins at Madison Square Garden, beating Jim Watt in a classic British title fight, claiming the European belt and racking up wins around the world.
But calls to Duran’s team were ignored and he waited until 1975 before getting another shot at the WBC title.
Buchanan again felt he was the victim of skulduggery when a sparring partner poked him in the eye on the eve of his challenge against Guts Ishimatsu in Tokyo, and he lost on points after suffering triple vision.
He retired on medical advice because of vision problems later that year, after he and his father suffered cuts in a riot after he had knocked out his Italian opponent in Sardinia in a European title defence.
Buchanan concentrated on running his Edinburgh hotel but returned to the ring after a four-year absence – selling his business to fund a costly divorce settlement,
He lost a European title fight against Irishman Charlie Nash in his third comeback bout and lost his last four professional fights before resorting to unlicensed fights in London nightclubs in a bid to clear debts.
Buchanan began working as a joiner but could not shake his anger with Duran and flew to New York on a whim in 1995, spending two weeks in Harlem in an unsuccessful attempt to confront his nemesis, who was still fighting at world-title level. But he buried the hatchet following a reunion in 2002 and the pair became friends.
Alcohol problems intermittently dogged Buchanan and contributed to the breakdown of his second marriage but Buchanan remained a regular in Edinburgh’s boxing gyms, passing on wisdom to young fighters.
Last year his son Mark revealed Buchanan had been diagnosed with dementia and said it was ‘likely come as a result of his sport’. Because of the condition he was moved to a care home in Edinburgh.
As well as two children – Mark and Karen – from his first marriage, Buchanan had an older son, Raymond, who was born in 1966.
He was made an MBE in 1972 and was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame and the Scottish Sport Hall of Fame. Pictured: Buchanan and his wife Carol, holding his MBE outside Buckingham Palace, London
Buchanan vowed to become world champion at the age of eight after watching a film about American boxer Joe Louis and received support from his father Tommy, who would be in his corner as trainer during every fight. Pictured: Buchanan in 1973
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