Tributes for legendary trainer Frank Black

PUBLISHED: 10:47 11 December 2008 | UPDATED: 13:52 05 October 2010

East London boxing trainer Frank Black, who played a key role in the careers of many modern ring greats, has died.

I HAVE known east London boxing trainer Frank Black as a real friend for over 40 years, but I never dreamed that when I saw him working in the corner at the ExCeL Arena on Saturday night it would be for the last time, writes Len Whaley.

Yet Frank, who had played a key role in the careers of many modern ring greats, passed away later that night at his home.

Black was involved for many years in the highly successful Terry Lawless camp, based in the old Royal Oak gym in Canning Town, which reigned as the outstanding stable in British boxing.

Working alongside Lawless and co-trainer Jimmy Tibbs, Black was a friendly but dedicated worker as the famous East End gym produced a succession of outstanding champions for more than three decades.

World champions including welterweight king John H Stracey, flyweight Charlie Magri, light middleweight Maurice Hope and lightweight Jim Watt all brought glory to the stable with their triumphs.

Add to those the names of world heavyweight champion Frank Bruno and world welterweight king Lloyd Honeyghan, who spent most of their careers at the gym, and it is obvious why the stable was respected as a conveyor belt of boxing talent.

Lawless, now living in Spain, said: "I was shocked by the terrible news on Sunday. Frank was a dedicated trainer who played a key role in the success of the boxers."

In recent years the trainer's ability had also been recognised by Joe Calzaghe's father Enzo and Black regularly worked in the world champion's corner during an unbeaten 46-fight campaign.

Black was involved in Calzaghe's world title successes over Jeff Lacy in Manchester, Mikkel Kessler in Cardiff and Bernard Hopkins in Las Vegas earlier this year.

After decades in the boxing business, Black, who was approaching 70, had recently been able to enjoy his favourite hobby - cheering on Dagenham and Redbridge football club, where manager John Still was a close personal friend.

"We all knew Frank as a great guy who was always willing to help players by taking fitness training sessions in the gym," Still said.

Over the many years I have known Frank and written about the many fighters with which he he was involved, I have only known him complain once.

During a seven-hour car drive to Glasgow for Jim Watt's world title defence, he criticised the quality of my singing and said he would prefer to listen to the radio.

Farewell old friend - I know those heavenly voices will sound better than mine.

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