Last bell rings for Terry Lawless

The Terry Lawless funeral yesterday pulled a full house to St Mary’s Church in Woodham Ferrers in deepest Essex. Flat-nosed boxers, sharp-eyed boxing writers and an army of tearful family and friends filled the church to overflowing.

SJA member Norman Giller, a Lawless friend for more than 50 years, said in his eulogy: “What a manager! The stats say it all: Four world champions in John H.Stracey, Maurice Hope, Jim Watt and Charlie Magri … he laid the foundations to the careers of future world champions Lloyd Honeyghan, Joe Calzaghe and, of course, Frank Bruno.”

Norman turned to Frank, sitting in the congregation, and told him: “Frank, I know you have climbed mountains to be here today. Terry will be proud of you.”

Lawless and Bruno had a well-publicised fall-out, and he finally won his world title under the banner of Frank Warren. Bruno said: “Regardless of what happened between Terry and I, you can quote me as saying he was the greatest manager there has ever been and treated me like a son. I have come here to pay my respects to The Boss. He was simply the best, and I owe him so much.”

Maurice Hope flew in from Antigua to say a final fond farewell to the man who guided him to the world light-middleweight title. “I lost my father recently and now I feel as if I have lost a second Dad,” he said. “No manager looked after his boxers better than Terry. There has never been such a conscientious and caring manager.”

Dean Powell, Frank Warren’s matchmaker, gave an address on behalf of the boxing fraternity. “Terry was the most generous and giving of people,” he said. “I was a failed boxer when he inspired me to turn to training. There has been nobody better than him as a motivational force, and the fact that he produced a procession of outstanding champions says everything about his preparation and attention to detail. Why, oh why was he never awarded something in the honours lists?”

Jim Watt gave a moving eulogy at the crematorium following the church service. “Terry turned not only my career but my life around,” he said. “People expect you to say good things about somebody at a time like this. Well I am not just saying it today, I have been saying it for years … Terry Lawless was the finest boxing manager this country has ever seen.”

Colin Hart, one of a cluster of ringside scribes who made the journey through driving rain (and rewarded with a blown gasket on the A12) commented: “We boxing writers have lost a good friend and somebody who was admired around the world for his managing skills and the dignified way in which he always conducted himself. On a personal note, Terry was a good pal for more than 45 years. It is like losing a family member. We won’t see his like again.”

Len Whaley and Peter Faulkner supported Lawless as local paper journalists. “He treated us with the same respect and appreciation of our newspaper needs as he did the National boys,” said Len. “He was a joy to know, and I was privileged to count him as a friend.”

“Even boxers he fell out with came round to realising that he was far and away the best manager in the business,” said Faulkner. “You only have to see the faces here today to know that he was not just admired but also loved.”

Commentator Jim Rosenthal said: “Terry was a very special person, who managed to climb above the politics of boxing. You will not find anybody in the media with a bad thing to say about him. He was quality.”

Terry died on Christmas eve in his adopted home of Marbella following a gall bladder operation. He was 76. He leaves a widow, Sylvia, to whom he was married for 53 years, and a daughter, Lorraine, and son, Stephen.

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