Ken Buchanan: push for Meadowbank to be named after boxing hero

Ken Buchanan at the civic reception held in his honour. Picture: Neil Hanna
Ken Buchanan at the civic reception held in his honour. Picture: Neil Hanna
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A CAMPAIGN has been launched to immortalise a fighter many regard as one of the world’s greatest ever boxers.

Calls for a permanent tribute to Ken Buchanan are gaining traction following a civic reception held on Friday in his honour.

Ideas include naming the new Meadowbank sports centre after him or erecting a statue to the retired legend, who once topped the bill ahead of Muhammad Ali.

The long overdue recognition comes almost 50 years after he clinched the world lightweight title.

And the public appetite for bestowing yet greater honours upon him is growing after well-wishers gathered last week to celebrate the 70-year-old’s outstanding career. One of his closest friends, former professional boxer Owen Smith, wants to put up a statue on McDonald Road close to Sparta Boxing Club where the world champion trained, and also suggested that the soon-to-be revamped Meadowbank Stadium could be re-named the “Ken Buchanan Sports Centre”.

Mr Smith, 51, is already in talks with prominent supporters including ex-Rangers player Willie Henderson and former champion Bradley Welsh, chairman of the Amateur Boxing Association Scotland.

Ken Buchanan in 1973. Picture: Alan Ledgerwood

Ken Buchanan in 1973. Picture: Alan Ledgerwood

He said: “He looked after me and I want to do what I can for him. Personally I think it’s long overdue that the city recognised their champion.

“In boxing terms, he put Edinburgh on the map.”

Prestonpans fighter Josh Taylor, who won the gold at the Commonwealth Games in the light welterweight division, has given his backing to the tribute.

He said: “It should have been done back when he brought the world title back to Edinburgh [in 1970]. It’s time he got the recognition he deserves and naming a stadium after him would be awesome.

It’s long overdue that the city recognised their champion. In boxing terms, he put Edinburgh on the map.

Owen Smith

“He’s the best world champion to come out of Britain and if I could achieve half as much as he has, I would be a happy fighter.”

A sports centre in Dundee was named after boxer Dick McTaggart, who won an Olympic gold in 1956.

Lifelong Buchanan fan and depute Lord Provost, Councillor Steve Cardownie, suggested that the Portobello Swim Centre – where Mr Buchanan used to train – might be able to name one of its sports suites after the legend.

Bradley Welsh, who runs Holyrood Boxing Gym, pledged to use his contacts within the sport to raise the funds for a monument of some kind. He added: “Ken Buchanan is an absolute superstar and it was great to see the support for him at the civic reception.

“But many people in Edinburgh are still unaware of his great achievements. He should be feted and the people of Edinburgh should be taking the lead on this.”

The statue would cost at least £80,000 and would be paid for by a public subscription or through a charitable group.

Cllr Cardownie, who helped organise the reception, said he would welcome the views of city residents.

Lord Provost Donald Wilson added: “I fully support calls for a lasting tribute to Ken Buchanan’s impressive contribution to sport in the city.

“While many monuments and statues are in the care of the council, they were gifted or paid for by public subscription.

“There are other ways to create lasting recognition for our important people and their stories. I encourage locals to come forward with proposals.”

john.connell@edinburghnews.com