Brian London: Family, friends and fans bid a fond farewell to the Blackpool Rock
Family, friends and fans of Blackpool boxing legend Brian London have paid their respects earlier today at his funeral.
Best known as the Blackpool Rock throughout his professional career, Brian died on June 23 at the age of 87 following a long illness.
Prior to the service at Carleton Crematorium at 2pm, the funeral cortege made an honorary lap of Stanley Park, close to where Brian lived and where he was a regular jogger.
As people gathered at the crematorium ‘Gonna Fly Now’, best known as the theme from the film Rocky, played through speakers as Brian’s coffin was carried in.
As well as a packed congregation inside, dozens paid their respects outside with a projector screen erected showing a televised display of some of Brian’s best boxing matches in addition to some cherished memories with his family and friends.
During the service the poem ‘Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night’ by Welsh poet Dylan Thomas was read out along with memories of Brian and a speech by his daughter-in-law Angela.
Another touching moment during the service was a pair of boxing gloves being placed on Brian’s coffin by his grandson 12-year-old Jack Harper, who is hoping to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather.
Jack is a dedicated student of the sport at Brian Rose’s Blackpool gym, where he is tipped as a potential champion.
Following the funeral people made their way outside with Survivor’s Eye of The Tiger being played out.
Brian was British and Commonwealth Heavy Weight Champion from 1958 to 1959, and twice fought for the World Heavy Weight Title, against boxing greats Floyd Patterson in 1959 and Muhammad Ali in 1966.
Later in life Brian also owned the 007 night club in Blackpool.
His family said he ‘passed away peacefully’ and was surrounded by his family.
Prior to the funeral a spokesman for Brian’s family said: “He will be lovingly remembered by his three children, Brian, Melanie and Jack; his five grandchildren, Kristy, Kelby, Antonia, Jack Jr. and Elise; and two great-grandchildren, Florence and Halle.”
Among those that came to pay their respect were current Blackpool boxing favourite and six-time national champion Brian Rose and his trainer Bobby Rimmer.
Fans of the boxer also wanted to make sure Brian had a good send off.
Tommy Jackson, 82, of Inver Road, Bispham said he remembers some of Brian’s most famous fights and followed his career.
He said: “He was your proper English gentleman fighter and it was a real honour that he chose Blackpool as his home town. He was someone that everyone wanted to do well because of representing the town.
“I think it is testament to his character by how many people showed up today to show and pay their respects to the man.
Karl Redman, 38, of Swan Drive, said he had met London a couple of times and he always wanted to talk about boxing.
He said: “He would talk about any upcoming bouts and was always happy to chat about all things boxing.
“I wasn’t around when he was in his fighting prime but his name is legendary across Blackpool as a boxer and I have been able to watch clips of him fighting in his day.
“I thought it was right to come and put respect next to his name today and I wasn’t the only one to do so either.”