Scotsman Obituaries: Willie Limond, Scottish professional boxer who collected national and international titles at various weights

Willie Limond after successfully defending his Commonwealth light-welterweight title against Mitch Prince in 2013 (Picture: John Devlin)Willie Limond after successfully defending his Commonwealth light-welterweight title against Mitch Prince in 2013 (Picture: John Devlin)
Willie Limond after successfully defending his Commonwealth light-welterweight title against Mitch Prince in 2013 (Picture: John Devlin)
Willie Limond, boxer. Born 2 February 1979 in Glasgow. Died: 15 April 2024 in Airdrie, aged 45

Willie Limond was an outstanding Scottish professional boxer whose collection of titles included British, Commonwealth and European championships.

Fighting at weights between super feather and light welter in the course of a 48-bout career stretching from 1999 to 2023, he won 42, registering 13 knockouts.

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Always part-time, he continued working in his trade as a joiner, taking time off work to train full time for important fights. At his best he was on the cusp of world class and had a few breaks gone his way, he would probably have reached that pinnacle.

With son Drew, a promising boxerWith son Drew, a promising boxer
With son Drew, a promising boxer

In 2007 he famously fought an up and coming Amir Khan, Olympic silver medallist and future world champion, knocking him to the canvas in the 6th round with a flurry of combination punches.

When the referee reached “8” in his count with Khan standing, he dropped on a knee to buy time. The official stopped counting, telling Khan to get up and once he did so, he was able to beat the interrupted count to continue.

Limond later lost but maintained that had the referee done his job correctly, Khan should have been counted out. Had that happened, lucrative bouts and the prospect of full-time boxing could have materialised for the Glaswegian.

He certainly kept some world-class company in the ring, including five future or past world champions – Khan, Ricky Burns, Anthony Crolla, Alex Arthur and Erik Morales. Although he lost those bouts, his opponents knew they had been in a fight.

Willie was a lionhearted boxer who was always totally committed, prepared to fight any opponent anywhere.

Among the boxing fraternity he was extremely popular and he formed lasting friendships with many opponents. Outside the ring he was also a tremendously popular and likeable figure with an infectious sense of fun and mischief complementing natural humility.

William Limond was born in Glasgow’s Rottenrow Hospital to parents Ann and George and brought up in Garthamlock with brothers Kevin and Raymond. Initially he attended Craigend Primary School before going to Garthamlock Secondary.

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Boxing was in his blood from an early age, with Willie first lacing up the gloves as a six-year-old at Gallowgate Boxing Club under the expert eye of trainer John McNair.

By age 11 he had made his competitive debut in a bout in Liverpool, later coming to prominence winning a bronze medal at the European Cadet Championships – now European Junior Championships – in Elazig, Turkey in 1995.

Progress continued with Willie winning the Scottish Amateur Boxing Federation championship at featherweight in 1997 representing Dennistoun Boxing Club, still guided by McNair.

He had continued playing football for teams such as Garthamlock United and Blue Star when he was spotted and signed by Albion Rovers, for whom he played five games in 1998 in Division 3.

Promising player though he undoubtedly was, Willie opted for boxing, turning professional in 1999 with a successful debut against Lenny Hodgkins in Glasgow’s Thistle Hotel.

Unbeaten in his first 18 fights, in 2003 he faced Edinburgh’s Alex Arthur in what was billed as the biggest British title fight since the epic Buchanan v. Watt clash of 1973. In a packed Braehead Arena bristling with atmosphere, Arthur’s punching power prevailed to clinch the super featherweight crown.

Two years later Willie clinched the European super featherweight title against Frenchman Youssouf Djibaba, while in 2006 he added the Commonwealth lightweight crown as well as the light welter version in 2013.

A hard-fought defeat to Anthony Crolla gave the Mancunian the British light welter belt but in 2014, in what Willie thought his best fight, he successfully defended the Commonwealth light welter title and added the British version against Curtis Woodhouse.

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Having retired, he could not resist the temptation of a challenge against multiple world champion Ricky Burns, who beat him in a punishing fight last year in what was to prove Willie’s last.

A major highlight was his bout in 2010 against his hero Erik Morales, a world champion at four different weights. He jumped at the chance to face the Mexican kingpin and although he then had an injured hand in plaster he cut it off himself to appear uninjured at the announcement of the fight. It took place in Mexico City’s bull ring, the world’s largest, in front of a 56,000 crowd. Willie was almost overwhelmed at the noise greeting the entry of Morales and although he began well, altitude effects hampered him as he succumbed in the 6th round to bodyshots “that would have put a hole in the side of a hoose”!

Having dabbled with retirement he found it difficult to do so permanently and was scheduled to have a fight on 3 May against Joe Laws.

Only three fights took place after 2016 but he maintained a regular training regime which at his peak involved six-mile runs at 4.30am, gym sessions at 10am and more fitness work in the evening. He preferred to do his training in Glasgow at venues such as the Campsie Hills and the city’s Acropolis.

Latterly Willie helped coach elite amateurs at Boxing Scotland’s High Performance Centre, where he was hugely appreciated, and accompanied teams throughout the UK and to France and Serbia. Willie also worked as a personal trainer and continued as a joiner.

He has sons Jake and Drew, both promising boxers, through his relationship with Lesley, and daughter Macy through partner Frances, all of whom survive him.

Obituaries

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