Ring king’s 50 years in boxing

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A GLENROTHES man’s half century of commitment to boxing has been recognised.

Alex McGrow received the services to sport award at Kirkcaldy Area Sports Council’s annual prize-giving.

But far from waxing nostalgically about how much better boxing was when he started out, the Pitteuchar man believes the sport is better at grass roots level now than it has ever been.

Alex began his career in Kirkcaldy with Smeaton Boys Club, but it was with Kinghorn that his career really took off as he won the East District welterweight title and also took Territorial Army Championships at light middle and middleweight.

During his time in the latter force, he recorded the unusual distinction of having fought against Scotland as a member of the British TA team.

Alex fought some of the top boxers of the day, including Olympic champion Dick McTaggart, but, in 1963, put his amateur career in jeopardy by fighting in a Links Market boxing booth, for which he earned £15 – twice his monthly wage at the time.

He would have been in trouble if anyone in the boxing hierarchy had found out, but as it was the worst that happened was that he incurred the displeasure of his mother – and he did get a made-to-measure suit from Burton’s from his winnings.

Alex later moved into coaching, as well as penning boxing columns for local newspapers, but while attending Edinburgh University as a mature student he won varsity titles at light middle and middleweight .

On graduation he became a teacher and combined educating pupils in the classroom and in the gym, many of whom went on to carve out decent careers in the sport.

He also coached boxers to titles at district and Scottish level through the Kingdom Amateur Boxing Club, which he formed with Mike Keane in 1990, concentrating on the junior section as he continue to do today.

He is also the club’s treasurer, child protection officer, press liaison man and photographer!

Alex said: “I have been in this game for a wee while now and I’ve seen a lot of changes, most of them for the better.

“Amateur boxing is now an extremely safe sport and is now also open to girls.

“The game has also gone full circle in that some schools are now offering boxing as part of the PE curriculum whereas, at one time, it was frowned upon in mainstream schools.

“I’m happy to coach kids even if they never box competitively.

“Often they turn up because they are being bullied and training itself instils confidence and self-esteem, as well as fitness.

“If that’s all they take away I have done my job.

“It’s good to see a youngster who was maybe cowed and dispirited gaining confidence and self-respect.

“It’s also gratifying when former club members bring their kids to the club – but it certainly ages me when they bring their grand-children!”