NICKNAMED The Mighty Quinn, he enjoyed a glittering boxing career which once saw him lift the WBO Inter-Continental middleweight crown.
Now after a 13-year absence from the ring, former prize fighter Willie Quinn is set to lace up his gloves one more time. But this time it’s for the most important fight of his life.
At the slightly more advanced age of 41, the former professional boxer urgently needs the cash to fund care for his stricken father, who is battling motor neurone disease.
Quinn’s father, Tommy, 66, has been taking part in groundbreaking stem cell bone marrow treatment trials in Israel which have not yet been licensed in the UK.
The ex-middleweight said he would “do all I can to help” his ailing father, including a return to the sport he left in 2000.
Over four two-minute rounds, he will fight Bobby Collins, a former amateur boxer turned promoter, in a bout which has already sold out its 600 tickets.
The fighter, who now works off-shore in the oil industry following his boxing retirement, hopes the intervening years have been kind to him. Quinn has continued to stay in shape, even training at a gym on the oil rig where he works, and said he is ready for the encounter. With many fighters continuing to box competitively into their 40s, that might be the case.
But there’s no denying what he’s doing has an inherent risk factor – and that makes the emotional driving force behind this bout even more poignant.
His dad, who lives in Tranent, has already had stem cell treatment which has seen an improvement in his condition.
Quinn, a two-time British title challenger, said: “I want to do all I can to help my dad.”
He won 28 of his 33 fights, knocking out 19 of his opponents and losing five, and quit the ring after a technical KO success over Jason Barker in Glasgow in March 2000.
Quinn fought 147 rounds during his career, which started in 1991, contesting two British and one Commonwealth title championships.
He said: “I’ve been working out in the gym off-shore and training when I’m back home.
“My dad’s been having stem cell treatment in Israel and we want him to go back for more. It’s really expensive but I want to do all I can to help him.”
Brother Tommy jnr, 38, a former boxer himself who is also Willie’s trainer, said: “Willie is in good shape and only a few pounds heavier than when he was a pro. Obviously this event is for charity and some punches will be pulled, but Willie wants to show people some real boxing skill.
“It was my dad who got us into boxing and he gave us so much support over the years. He arranged sponsorship for us and dealt with the venues. We owe everything to him.”
Quinn’s former manager, Alex Morrison, and Rangers star Ian Black, who lives nearby and is a family friend, are also supporting him.
Alongside fellow ex-boxer Alex Brown, Quinn opened the Bronx Boxing Gym in Tranent to inspire and train the next generation of boxing talent.
One of the gym’s coaches, John McCallum, said: “Willie has been training in the gym for the fight. He’s in top condition, which he has always been in since he retired.
“His dad’s an absolute gentleman and Willie and his brother and sister have been doing everything they can.”
The fight is set to take place at City nightclub in Market Street on Friday, March 21. Tickets are £35.
BOXING has seen its share of sporting comebacks end in glory.
Former heavyweight champion George Foreman retired three years after losing to Muhammad Ali in their celebrated Rumble in the Jungle clash.
But in 1987, after a decade away from the ring, Foreman surprised the world by announcing a comeback at 38.
After taking Evander Holyfield the full 12 rounds in 1993 but losing on points, Foreman got another shot at the title the following year.
Aged 45, Foreman knocked out champion Michael Moorer in the tenth round to reclaim the world heavyweight belt he had lost to Ali in 1974.