Former World Flyweight boxing champion Walter McGowan was posthumously honoured recently when inducted into the North Lanarkshire Sporting Hall of Fame, writes Craig Goldthorp.
Walter, who lived in Motherwell for most of his life and ran McGowans pub in Carluke in the 1970s and '80s, stayed in a Bellshill nursing home before his death aged 73 in February 2016.
He had attained his world boxing title with a points win over Italian Salvatore Burruni after 15 gruelling rounds at the Empire Pool, Wembley, in June 1966.
McGowan, who stood only 5ft 2’’ and usually weighed eight stones or less during fights, won that contest against Burruni despite sustaining a badly gashed eye in the seventh round.
A female relative collecting the Hall of Fame award on Walter’s behalf at Motherwell’s Ravenscraig Sports Facility told the audience that she had travelled to Sardinia with Walter and other family members just after his world title win over Burruni.
“Salvadore Burruni actually invited us to his home,” she said. “He made us very welcome. And I think it is important to show that there is a fellowship among sportsmen, even though they are opponents.
“There is still a great friendship between boxers.
“Walter has passed away but I’m sure he’s up there saying: ‘Good on you Motherwell’.
“He loved the people of Motherwell. He loved living here. He made many friends and I’d just like to thank North Lanarkshire Council for acknowledging his achievements.”
McGowan, who was named an MBE in 1966, was famed for being a skilful boxer who showed brilliant footwork and knew how to use the ring.
However, he suffered throughout his career with cuts, often having fights stopped despite being ahead on points.
Without this failing, he would have had an even more successful career.
McGowan’s elevation to become a professional world champion had come after a stellar amateur career which yielded only two defeats in 124 bouts.
After starting in the professional ranks with a technical knockout over George McDade at Glasgow’s Kelvin Hall in August 1961, he went on to land the British and Commonwealth flyweight titles with a 12th round knockout over Jackie Brown at Paisley Ice Rink in May 1963.
In December 1965, McGowan stepped up a weight and challenged for the European bantamweight title, held by Italian, Tommaso Galli.
The fight in Rome ended as a draw after fifteen rounds.
Walter’s pro record was to end with 32 wins, seven losses and a draw before his retirement aged just 27 after his final bout against Domenico Antonio Chiloiro in November 1969.