Robert Carlyle auctioning off script for Benny Lynch statue
Benny Lynch was just 5ft 4in tall - but flew to fame in the 1930s as the European and World “flyweight” boxing champion - making him Scotland’s sporting superstar of the age.
Raised in poverty in the Gorbals, Glasgow, he learned to box in carnival booths - and his success became one of the city’s best known rags to riches tales.
After his great successes Lynch battled with alcoholism and he eventually died just 33-years-old.
But now a grassroots campaign has begun to erect a statue in Benny’s honour in Glasgow.
And Robert Carlyle has today donated a signed copy of the pilot script of his hit American TV show Once Upon a Time to the efforts to raise the £100,000 needed for the statue.
Carlyle stars as Rumpelstiltskin in the series - which is a reboot of classic fairytales, merged with a present-day story.
Other actors who have signed Carlyle’s rare personal copy of the pilot script include Star Trek amd Once Upon a Time co-star, actor Jennifer Morrison.
The script is set to be auctioned off to raise funds for the campaign - which has only raised £2,000 so far.
• READ MORE: The story of Benny Lynch
On Twitter this morning Carlyle posted images of the signed script, captioning it: “In aid of the campaign to erect a statue in honour of Benny Lynch, my own personal leather bound copy of the pilot episode signed by the entire cast, will be up for auction very soon. Details to follow.”
Members of his 500,000 strong Twitter following called Carlyle’s donation “incredibly sweet” and joined in with his call to put up a statue for Lynch.
Campaign organisers have written on their site: “Sadly Benny died in his early 30s, and though he is still remembered with pride and great affection he has never had a lasting memorial to honour him.
“We are trying to raise money for a statue which will be placed in Glasgow in Benny’s memory.
“Any help would be gratefully received as we have a lot of money to raise , but we know we can do it for ‘The Little King’ of the Gorbals.”
Lynch earned his titled as “The Little King” as his boxing career started in Glasgow during the Great Depression.
Fighting in the flyweight category, Lynch rose to fame after winning the 1934 Scottish title against Ken Campbell.
He then took on the British and European champion Jackie Brown in two matches - drawing one and winning the other by flooring his opponent eight times before the match was ended in the second round.
Thousands of Scots travelled south to support him in the match - which took place in Manchester.
Just two years later - in 1937 - he was offered a fight for the world title in London, against Filipino rival Small Montana.The pair duked it out over 15 rounds until Lynch won the title.
When he arrived home in Glasgow’s Central Station the next day it is said that a crowd of some 100,000 was waiting to greet him.
But after his great successes Lynch fell into alcoholism - eventually dropping out of the sport when he couldn’t meet the health standards required to box.
He died in Glasgow’s Southern General Hospital at just 33 years old - and over 2,000 people attended his funeral.
Lynch’s legend is still told in Glasgow’s boxing gyms, and now the campaign to build a statue aims to pass his story to a new generation.
Speaking previously on his support for the campaign, Carlyle said: “I cannot think of anyone, past or present from the city of Glasgow, who deserves it more.
“I’ve been an admirer of Benny Lynch for more years than I care to remember. Even though he never saw him fight, he was a great hero of my father.
“My grandfather on the other hand saw him fight on several occasions. His stories have been handed down from him to my father, from my father to me, and from me to my kids who are as familiar with the name Benny Lynch as they are with any present sportsman.”