Benny Lynch (1913-1946) was British flyweight champion 1935-38, National Boxing Association (NBA) and International Boxing Union (IBU) champion 1935-37, and undisputed World Champion 1937-38. Out of a total of 102 contests he won seventy-seven (with thirty knockouts), drew fifteen and lost ten. Born in Florence Street in the Gorbals on 12 April 1913, Lynch became the most controversial British sportsman of the 1930s, inadvertently setting the template for the flawed, tragic genius during a brilliant career that was terminated just as he should have been reaching his peak.
A Glasgow newspaper boy, Lynch earned extra money - and served his apprenticeship - in the boxing booths before becoming a full-time professional in 1931. Marrying ring-craft to formidable punching power, he became Scottish champion in 1934 and, in Manchester the following year, he became British and World Champion by knocking down title holder Jackie Brown ten times before the referee ended the contest in the second round.
Hundreds of thousands of people lined the streets from Central Station to his home in the south side of the city to cheer Lynch on his return to Glasgow. In 1937 he out-pointed Small Montana to be recognised as the undisputed world champion in his division and, in the same year, in front of 40,000 people at Shawfield Stadium, he knocked out Peter Kane, the man who would succeed him.
Unfortunately, fame did not sit easily on Lynch's frail shoulders and his battle with the bottle and his personal demons proved to be more difficult to overcome. Lynch regularly struggled to make the 112lb weight limit and lost his title on the scales in 1938, stripped for being an astonishing six-and-a-half pounds overweight for a defence against Jackie Jurich. He was knocked out for the only time by journeyman Aurel Toma in October of that year. Although he was only twenty-five, it was the final contest of Lynch's career. His alcoholism worsened and he died of malnutrition on 6 August 1946.
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