Carl Frampton pays tribute to Belfast fight legend Freddie Gilroy

Olympic Bronze medal winners Paddy Barnes (Light Fly weight)  and Michael Conlan ( Fly weight) are welcomed back to Titanic Belfast   by Former Boxers Freddie Gilroy ( St John Bosco) and  Hugh Russell (Holy Family) after their success in the London Olympic games
Olympic Bronze medal winners Paddy Barnes (Light Fly weight) and Michael Conlan ( Fly weight) are welcomed back to Titanic Belfast by Former Boxers Freddie Gilroy ( St John Bosco) and Hugh Russell (Holy Family) after their success in the London Olympic games

Tributes have come in for legendary boxer Freddie Gilroy who passed away on Tuesday aged 80.

Belfast fighter Gilroy won a bronze medal at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne stopping Russian favourite Boris Stepanov en-route to the semi-final where he was controversially outpointed by Germany’s Wolfgang Behrendt.

Following the Olympics, southpaw Gilroy embarked on a professional career - compiling a 28(18)-3(1) record.

He also won the British, Commonwealth, and European titles, as well as challenging for the World title in 1960 in London were he lost a unanimous decision to Alphonse Halimi.

In his last fight, Gilroy emerged victorious over fellow Belfast man Johnny Caldwell via a ninth round stoppage in a legendary bout that is still being talked about today.

And figures from the boxing world have been paying tribute to Gilroy.

Former IBF and WBA super-bantamweight World champion Carl Frampton MBE - who fights WBA Featherweight World Champion Leo Santa Cruz for the Mexican’s title in New York on July 30 - says he has fond memories of Gilroy.

“Freddie fought a bit before my time but I know from stories I was told that he was a fantastic fighter and a hard man.

“Everyone remembers and still talks about the fight he had with Caldwell.

“But the thing I remember about Freddie was that a few years ago I fought and lost in the Ulster Senior Championships in Coalisland and was sitting in the dressing room afterwards feeling sorry for myself.

“I was gutted after the defeat but Freddie came in to the dressing room and spoke to me that night and told me that I ‘would do alright.’ I got a photo with him that night, that I still have in the house.

“He was a nice man and I pass on my deepest sympathy to his family circle,” added Frampton from his training camp in London.

And veteran Belfast trainer John Breen says Gilroy was a fantastic fighter in his heyday.

“My father-in-law Mick Callahan used to run shows in Belfast with Freddie on them and he always had a big word about Freddie.

“He was a talented fighter and the only fight I watched him in was the war he had with Caldwell.

“Freddie was just too strong for Caldwell that night. He was also a hard, hard man in the ring and never gave an inch.

“He was a great fighter and my deepest sympathy goes out to the family circle at this sad time,” he added.

And Frampton’s manager Barry McGuigan also paid his respects on Twitter.

“A very sad day for Irish Boxing the brilliant Freddie Gilroy has passed away RIP. He was one of my idols. Deepest sympathies to his family.”

The Boxing Union Of Ireland said: “Our thoughts go out to the family and friends of Belfast boxer Freddie Gilroy who has sadly passed away at 80. A superb boxer and role model.”

In a tribute on the Belfast Boxers Facebook page, they said: “What a man, his legacy will always live on in our hearts.

“What a boxer in a very tough era, fought the best in the world, a true Belfast boy and boxer.

“Condolences to all his family especially his lovely wife Bernadette and Teddy who cared for his brother a lot special wee man.”

Gilroy’s funeral will take place tomorrow at the Holy Cross in Ardoyne at 11am.