Tom Imrie, Scots gold medal boxer, dies aged 67

Tom Imrie won gold at the Commonwealth Games. Picture: TSPL
Tom Imrie won gold at the Commonwealth Games. Picture: TSPL
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Tom Imrie, one of Scotland’s best-known boxers and a Commonwealth Games gold medallist, has died, aged 67.

A multiple Scottish and British champion particularly noted for his devastating punching power, the pinnacle of his amateur career came in the Commonwealth Games in 1970 when he won the gold medal at light middleweight in Edinburgh, his home town. Amid wild scenes at Murrayfield Ice Rink, he was carried aloft from the ring by his supporters.

Born on June 17 in Tennant Street, Leith, one of four brothers and a sister, Tom attended St David’s Primary School in West Pilton followed by St Anthony’s Secondary School in the Lochend district.

When they moved to the Granton area, boxing played a big part in Tom’s life and he and brother Mike would train after Sunday Mass with coach Angus Macdonald. They later joined the now defunct Buccleuch Boxing Club in Granton Square.

Mike, who himself won Scottish titles and represented Scotland at Commonwealth Games and European Championships, said: “The Buccleuch was a great wee club.

“Although the facilities were primitive by today’s standards there was always a great spirit about the place. It was there that Tom’s fighting instincts began to shine.

“He only really knew one way to fight and that was going forward, determined to finish off opponents with a trademark punch.

“He had the heart of a lion and never knew when he was beaten.”

Tom had a highly successful amateur career which included four Scottish titles and a highly creditable bronze medal at the European Championships in Bucharest in 1969, when he lost to the eventual winner, Trebugov of the USSR. Given that Iron Curtain boxers then were really professionals in all but name, that was a considerable achievement.

Outside the ring, Tom worked at Leith Docks and then for Scottish Brewers alongside another noted Scottish boxer, heavyweight Willie Gilfillan. At weekends, Tom and Mike were door stewards at the Plaza Ballroom in Morningside where Tom first met his wife-to-be, May Stark, who was a singer there.

After his Commonwealth Games success, Tom decided to turn professional with London manager Sam Burns. He and May moved south to live in Bracknell to further his career while she continued singing. His first pro fight was in early 1971 and his last was five years later. Although he had a decent record, winning ten of his 14 bouts – eight by knock-out – he never completely fulfilled his potential as a pro and retired aged 28.

He was inducted into the Scottish Boxing Hall of Fame in 2008, which made him immensely proud.

After retiring from the ring, he continued to live down south for some years, working as a scaffolder before returning to Edinburgh and then moving to Dalgety Bay.

Tom Imrie is survived by his wife May, son Darren, daughter Marcelle and brothers Mike and Andy and sister Isobel.