John Wilson: Tributes pour in for 'larger than life' Edinburgh boxing Champion after sudden death

“Popular” Edinburgh boxing champion’s sudden death shocks community

Tributes have poured in for a former Edinburgh boxing champion after his sudden death left the boxing community in shock.

Described as “larger than life” and the “life and soul of a party”, former Scots lightweight champ John Wilson – known as ‘Jon Jon’ – was 51. The circumstances of his death have not been confirmed. A former Edinburgh University student, Wilson won a silver medal in the Commonwealth Games in 1994. He left behind a daughter who is 19.

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His aunt Sally Smith said Wilson, who later became a painter and decorator, was well-known and loved across the Capital. She said: "He was a character who loved to joke. A Jack the Lad. He just loved boxing and even after he retired from it professionally he kept his hand in, sparring and helping out at boxing clubs.

Edinburgh boxing champion John Wilson (left) with Rab McEwan, father of CraigEdinburgh boxing champion John Wilson (left) with Rab McEwan, father of Craig
Edinburgh boxing champion John Wilson (left) with Rab McEwan, father of Craig

"It was a big shock for all of us. He was in good form and in decent health. He was a grafter, worked hard at the painting and decorating. And everybody knew him. He’s well loved, the life and soul of the party, always loved a good song. It’s hard not knowing what happened to him. But we will find out in a few weeks.”

Friend and former boxing student Craig McEwan said: “It’s really sad. He was a good big guy. I have known him all my boxing life. He used to box when my Dad boxed. He was just a young lad at the time and my Dad was old. We kept in touch in and out of the gym for years. John liked to live, would sometimes burn the candle at both ends. He was a really funny guy, could have been a comedian. But boxing is what he’s really known for.”

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Wilson became Craig’s coach in 2001 and helped him get fit enough to defeat a former rival and get a place in the Scotland squad, where he won a bronze the Commonwealth Games in Manchester in 2002.

John Wilson won silver for boxing at the Commonwealth Games in 1994 (Photo: Facebook)John Wilson won silver for boxing at the Commonwealth Games in 1994 (Photo: Facebook)
John Wilson won silver for boxing at the Commonwealth Games in 1994 (Photo: Facebook)

Now 41, Craig said: “I won a bronze there so never beat his silver in ‘93. We would always keep in touch even when I moved to LA. Just last week he messaged me for a chat. He was the funniest guy I know, always had a smile on his face. He was just larger than life and will be sadly missed.”

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Another friend of Wilson’s, Derek Harrison described him as a “great guy”. He said: “Very popular guy around Edinburgh, a nicer, more happy go lucky guy you couldn’t meet. So sad, absolutely gutted.”

Friends and supporters responded to news of his death with many expressing shock after having recently met with or talked to him.

Another friend from Edinburgh said: “Shocked and deeply saddened at the sudden passing of Jon Jon Wilson. Another good guy taken too soon. Deepest condolences to your family,and friends,to which there were many. We will miss your superb sense of humour. You were a character for sure. Rest easy champ.”

Another loved one said: “Can't believe this Craig have you any news what happened. Wasn't that long I was chatting with him down at David Lloyd he was looking well this is a massive shock.”

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