Edinburgh boxing champion Jackie Brown who once shared dressing room with Muhammad Ali, dies aged 84 after dementia battle

He was inducted into the Scottish Hall of Boxing Fame.

He won his first 14 fights as a pro boxer and his record finished with 32 wins, 10 losses and one draw.
He won his first 14 fights as a pro boxer and his record finished with 32 wins, 10 losses and one draw.

A former Edinburgh flyweight boxing champion who once shared a dressing room with Muhammad Ali has died at the age of 84.

Jackie Brown, who won Commonwealth gold in 1958 and lifted the British and Commonwealth pro titles and Lonsdale Belt in 1962, passed away in Sydney with his family by his side.

He and his wife, Margaret, followed their children by emigrating to Australia about 10 years ago in search of warmer climes - but Jackie was diagnosed with dementia soon after.

Jackie Brown with his wife, Margaret, as he celebrates his 84th birthday.

An engineer by trade, Jackie was also a big personality in the Edinburgh fitness scene throughout the 1970s and '80s and worked at Marcos leisure centre.

Speaking to the Evening News from Australia, his grand-daughter Sophie Paterson said: "As a family we are immensely proud, lucky and grateful for as much love, laughs and loyalty as anyone could hope for.

"Jackie Brown gave us and this world more than it could have ever asked."

Boxing Career

Jackie Brown won Commonwealth gold in 1958 and lifted the British and Commonwealth pro titles and Longsdale Belt in 1962.

Jackie Brown was born in Edinburgh on March 7th, 1935 and grew up in Grange Court in the city's south side.

He was about 14 years old when he joined the Leith Victoria Club as an amateur boxer. At the age of 16, he moved to Moredun where he met his future wife, Margaret.

Speaking alongside other family members in Australia, Margaret recalled travelling south to watch Jackie's British Empire and Commonwealth Games flyweight gold medal in Cardiff, won on points over 15 rounds.

The couple were married just a few months prior to this and Margaret remembered the homecoming celebrations in the city's Lyne Street, where the couple lived at the time.

Jackie and Maragret with their first born, Jacqueline.

In February 1962, Jackie defeated Brian Cartwright in Birmingham to win the Lonsdale Belt - on the very same day his wife gave birth to their first daughter, Jacqueline.

What's more, Jackie beat not just one, but two, world champions - flyweight Walter McGowan and the Italian bantamweight Mario D'Agata - during his professional boxing career.

He won his first 14 fights as a pro boxer and his record finished with 32 wins, 10 losses and one draw.

And Jackie was also on the Muhammed Ali v Brian London under card when they fought at London's Earls Court in 1966, with Ali winning by KO in the third. On this occasion, Jackie defeated Carl Taylor at bantamweight on points.

The homecoming celebrations after Jackie's 1958 Commonwealth gold.

Speaking from Australia, Jackie's son, Johnson Brown, said his father shared a dressing room with Ali that night and that Jackie recalled Ali saying he'd knock-out his opponent inside five rounds.

Jackie Brown was also inducted into the Scottish Hall of Boxing Fame in September 2006.

Fitness Role Model

Jackie was well known for taking enthusiastic groups of all ages through tough boxing-exercise programmes for 24 years at the Capital's Marcos Leisure in Grove Street.

Before that, he helped train and promote fitness for kids in the community and helped raise money for charity, with a number of 12-hour skipping challenges in the aid of various charities including the Sick Kids Hospital.

Shirley Brown, one of Jackie's daughters in Australia, said that when Marcos Leisure came along he helped make fitness accessible to all. At his peak he was doing about 11 or 12 classes per week, with up to 60 people in each class.

After Jackie's Commonwealth gold in 1958.

She continued: "He was a fantastic leader and a great role model and a real motivator and he led lots of classes when fitness was not that big a thing. He brought a whole new dimension to it and made it unisex as well."

Kate Marshall attended Jackie's fitness classes and later took over as the coach when he moved to Australia. She paid tribute to her 'inspirational friend'.

She said: "I knew him very well. It was a very inspirational class, and he was a very inspirational man. He was probably the least aggressive boxer ever.

"I think he changed many lives for hte better - people have become friends and I even met my husband at one of his classes."

Jackie also coached football team Anniston Rangers and led them to victory in the Brown Cup. After his boxing career and in between fitness classes, he also ran his own business as a domestic appliances engineer.

The family was also well known for their tennis and squash achievements under Jackie's guidance - supporting his daughter Shirley on her way to becoming a Scotland squash internationalist and his son Johnson become junior Scottish tennis champion.

His daughter Jacqueline recalled two catchphrases which her father used regularly: "No easy way" (meaning don't take shortcuts to get where you want to be) and "There's no way you can't do it" (meaning nothing's impossible).

At one point in his career, Jackie also helped distribute newspapers at the former Scotsman offices on North Bridge.

Australia

Jackie and Margaret emigrated to Australia in 2009 and within a year he was diagnosed with dementia.

Shirley said her father was beginning to struggle latterly but added: "But we lost him while he still knew who we were."

In latter years, Jackie was looked after in various nursing homes and day care centres yet managed to keep up his fitness, training others at the same time with some shadow boxing and footwork.

Shirley said that, even in his later years, her father's footwork was still "incredible."

Jackie's son, Johnson, affectionately recalled a story from four years ago when his father was visited regularly by a carer called 'Ali' and, instead of sitting looking through memory books, they started doing some three-minute bursts of pad work together. Johnson said: "They were doing the pad work and he was training Ali pretty full on. But I think that, because of the Alzheimer's, my dad kept forgetting how long they were going for.

"I think he actually thought he was really training Muhammad Ali."

Margaret described her husband as someone who would always seek to help others around him, saying: "He had been loved by everyone here (in Australia). Even in nursing homes he was looking out for people less able or fortunate than him."

Jackie died peacefully on Sunday morning just before 10am (Sydney time).

As well as his wife and children, Jackie leaves behind grand-daughters Sophie and Phoebe and grandson Geordie.

Funeral arrangements are being made in Sydney for later this month but the family also plan to hold a memorial service in Edinburgh in July.

More details will be released nearer the time.

Shirley added: "Scotland is really his home and a lot of people will want to remember him there."