Alex Arthur and Irvine Welsh lead tributes to legendary Leith boxing coach Joe Fortune

Tributes have flooded in for a legendary Leith boxing coach who devoted his life to developing young boxing talent and steered them towards success.

Thursday, 28th January 2021, 12:51 pm
Updated Thursday, 28th January 2021, 1:11 pm

Joe Fortune, a former boxing coach who handled a raft of stars in the making down the years, including Alex Arthur, Bradley Welsh and Stephen Simmons, passed away on Wednesday, aged 90.

An inspiration to countless youngsters, Mr Fortune enjoyed an astonishing 78-year association with Scotland’s oldest boxing club Leith Victoria AAC.

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Former professional boxers Alex Arthur and Stephen Simmons led the tributes to Mr Fortune, with Leith Victoria AAC and author Irvine Welsh also paying homage to the late coach.

Arthur, a former Commonwealth Games gold medallist and WBO world champion, spoke of the vital life lessons he picked up from Mr Fortune in his early years as a fighter.

He tweeted: “Today we lost my childhood coach, a man that taught me so much about life and boxing.

“A good amateur and a tough pro in his day, Joe really lived through some trauma and hardship. He taught me to be mentally tough. I’ll never forget you. #JoeFortune thank you.”

Joe Fortune trained and coached at Leith Victoria AAC for decades.

Retired professional boxer Simmons, another fighter who rose under the tutelage of Mr Fortune, said: “Gutted to hear the news of an old coach and proper Leith Victoria AAC man Joe Fortune passing today.

“Absolute legend, I had the pleasure of this man passing on some knowledge back in the days and working alongside in my corner.

“Rest In Peace Joe. You will be remembered forever.”

A life-long boxing fanatic, Mr Fortune joined the Leith Victoria AAC as a 12-year-old, later becoming a highly-respected coach and eventually rising to serve as club president.

Joe Fortune was associated with Leith Victoria AAC boxing club for almost 80 years.

Leith Victoria AAC issued a statement on their website, underlining Mr Fortune’s dedication and deep love for the sport down the decades.

The club said: “It is with deep sorrow that we announce the passing of Joe. He was involved in the club since the age of 12 – a total 78 years during which time he was a boxer, a coach and later our president.

"Joe as a coach was hard and fair who loved a joke. He put his heart and soul into the role, always showing the lads respect, patience and understanding, on occasions becoming a surrogate father figure to many. He was an inspiration and role model over the years.

“Joe was responsible for developing the boxing and social skills to many young lads who later became World, Commonwealth, European and Scottish champions.

“No matter the weather, Joe could be relied upon to open the doors of the gym and be ready to coach whoever turned up. During the lean, hard years of the club, Joe along with others ensuring that the club continued to thrive, he gave his all, he has been an anchor for the club throughout and will be sorely missed.”

Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh added: “Very sad to hear about the death of Joe. Fabulous coach and a very sound guy.”

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