Boxing: Former Hibee renews ties between two great clubs

The connections between Leith Victoria, Scotland's oldest amateur boxing club, and Hibs are almost as old as the Academy Street club itself.

The only Scottish brothers to win Olympic boxing medals - George McKenzie (Bantamweight Bronze 1920) and James McKenziev(Flyweight Silver, 1924) - not only lived in Bothwell Street near Hibs' stadium but the pair's Uncle and the first Scot to win a Lonsdale Belt outright, James "Tancy'' Lee, was a staunch Hibee living in Easter Road until his death in 1941.

Similarly, Hibs' goalie in the 1923 and 1924 Scottish Cup finals, Willie Harper - a former Scots Guards heavyweight boxing champion - used to sometimes train under Lee in the boxing club gym.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Now, matters have turned full circle with former Hibs and Aberdeen star, Steve Cowan, 47, training twice weekly with the Leith Vics boxers, something that he has done for the last 12 months.

Hailing the experience of doing boxing training to keep up his fitness levels, Cowan, now a media pundit, said: "To be honest I wasn't much of a boxing fan during my football playing career but while on a tour of Germany 20 years ago with Hibs I met current Leith Victoria club secretary, Tony Reid, who was a serving NCO with the British Army back then and Tony opened his home to me in Germany during the Hibs tour and we subsequently became fast friends.

"Consequently, when I told Tony that I was looking to increase my fitness levels, he invited me to work out twice a week in the club gym and I love it.

"One of the things I missed once my playing days with Hibs and Aberdeen were over was the camaraderie and personal 'craic' and banter in the dressing room.

"For example, we had a great comradely atmosphere in the Aberdeen dressing room under Alex Ferguson and at Hibs under John Blackley and Tommy Craig we had exactly the same "one-for-all, all-for-one'' spirit and that's exactly what I enjoy most, apart from the training.

"The Leith Victoria boxers, coaches like Ray Gibson and officials like Dougie Fraser and Tony Reid, have a great spirit of comradeship similar to what I enjoyed with Hibs and Aberdeen during my playing time.

"I've been happy to use my media connections to get Leith Victoria exposure in their 90th anniversary year in 2009 on radio and I see me helping them further in this connection. But it's the sheer buzz and excitement of the training sessions that really fire me up - the mix of hard graft and banter that bounces around the gym on training nights."

Reid added: "Steve is an inspirational figure on training nights as many of the boxers are quite chuffed to be working out with a former Hibs star like him.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"He also helps us out behind the scenes and will continue to do so in the future.''

And club boxing coach, Ray Gibson agreed, saying: "Steve Cowan works hard at his fitness and given his past as a top footballer he has no side or airs.

"He is popular because he merges in easily with lads who have come to regard him as one of their own."