Ken Buchanan to become next recipient of 'Edinburgh Award'

Ken Buchanan will become the 10th recipient of the Edinburgh Award next year.
Ken Buchanan will become the 10th recipient of the Edinburgh Award next year.
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One of Scotland’s all-time boxing greats is to follow in the footsteps of JK Rowling, Professor Peter Higgs and Sir Chris Hoy after being chosen to receive one of Edinburgh’s highest honours.

Boxing legend Ken Buchanan will be presented with the Edinburgh Award more than half a century on from his professional debut.

The 71-year-old former lightweight champion’s handprints will be immortalised in a flagstone outside the City Chambers along with those of the previous Edinburgh Award winners.

They also include fundraising war veteran Tom Gilzean, entrepreneur Sir Tom Farmer and arts impresario Richard Demarco.

Buchanan, who was brought up in Northfield area of the city, was the first British fighter to win the world lightweight title since 1917 when he claimed the crown in 1970.

But he famously never got the chance to fight in Edinburgh and his achievements were only formally recognised in his home city with a civic reception in January after senior councillors admitted the honour was “long overdue.”

He will become the 10th recipient of the Edinburgh Award when the official ceremony is held early in the new year.

Born in 1945, Buchanan joined the Sparta boxing club in the city at the age of eight and turned professional in 1965.

He won both the Scottish and British lightweight crowns before beating world champion Ismael Laguna in Puerto Rico.

He famously fought on the same bill as Muhammad Ali in Madison Square Garden twice and twice successfully defended his world title before a controversial defeat to Roberto Duran in 1972 when the fight was stopped after the 13th round when Buchanan was struck by a below-the-belt punch just before the bell. A promised rematch with Duran failed to emerge.

Buchanan, who finally retired from the ring in 1982, and became the only living British fighter to be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2000.

He was inducted into the Scottish Hall of Fame, which is housed at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, two years later.

Buchanan, who has had a long-running battle with alcohol addiction and was forced to sell his championship belts seven years ago.

Buchanan said: “I am absolutely overwhelmed that this prestigious honour will be presented to me. The fact that I’ll have everlasting handprints cast in stone at the Royal mile is just amazing and I would like to thank everyone who voted for me.”

Lord Provost Donald Wilson, said: “It’s no secret that I am a great supporter of Ken and the recognition that he so richly deserves.

“In many ways, a lasting tribute for him in his home city is long overdue, and it seems right to me that his name will go on the wall of the City Chambers and those famous fighting hands will be immortalised in stone.

“He really has made an outstanding contribution to sport, and this award is the city’s way of recognising all that he has achieved in his career.”