A PRESTIGIOUS civic award honouring the dedication of boxer Ken Buchanan and the renewed recognition of his sporting achievements has prompted a fresh drive for a statue in his honour.
Leith-born Ken was presented with the Edinburgh Award on Friday, which his supporters hope will spark a new round of donations towards the commission of a public effigy of the former world lightweight champion.
A statue to the retired legend, who once topped the bill ahead of Muhammad Ali, could be built at Meadowbank Stadium once it’s rebuilt.
Trustees of the Ken Buchanan Foundation want the city statue to be built as a cultural memorial of his world-class boxing accolades.
So far £11,500 has been raised but friend and fellow boxer Owen Smith hopes Ken’s recent award will encourage donors to help them reach their £50,000 target.
Ken’s lengthy scoresheet reveals the career of a dedicated sportsman who continually fought at the top of his game.
He has been hailed an inspiration, a gentleman and a legend, and was crowned the World Boxing Association world lightweight champion in 1970, defeating Ismael Laguna in Puerto Rico.
In the same year he was also the American Boxing Writers’ Association’s Fighter of the Year, ahead of boxers such as Ali and Joe Frazier.
In 1971 he defeated Ruben Navarro in Los Angeles to become WBC and undisputed world lightweight champion.
Mr Smith – who from a young age was guided by Ken and became the Scottish welterweight champion under his management – plans to continue the work of the Foundation after the statue is built.
Money raised will be used to promote and encourage children with disabilities or special needs into sport in Edinburgh.
Trustees also hope to make donations to children’s charities where sport participation is the focus.
Owen said: “Ken was my mentor when I was younger – he kept me on the straight and narrow and I was lucky enough to have that support and the financial backing of sponsors.
“We want to keep fundraising in Ken’s name to help any young kids get into sport and having his name tied to that will be a great legacy.”
Calls for a permanent tribute to Buchanan quickly gained traction following a civic reception held in his honour. The long overdue recognition came almost 50 years after he clinched the world lightweight title.
Produced by Granton-based foundry Powderhall Bronze, the £50,000 statue would be mounted on a granite plinth in front of the main entrance to Meadowbank – which is due a £43 million revamp – and would show Buchanan in his classic fighting pose.
Speaking at the awards ceremony on Friday, Buchanan, who has already given his blessing to the plans, told the story of the moment he knew he wanted to be a boxer: “It was 1953, when I was eight-years-old, my dad took me to see the Joe Louis Story film and after I said, ‘I want to join a boxing club’.
“I had to lie about my age because I as too young!”
To donate to the foundation visit www.gofundme.com/kenbuchananmbe