Irvine Welsh backs call for a Ken Buchanan statue

Efforts to create a permanent tribute to boxing great Ken Buchanan in Edinburgh have received a boost.

Ken Buchanan, former world lightweight champion.

Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh has accepted an invitation to be a patron of the foundation set-up by Buchanan’s lifelong friend Owen Smith to immortalise the lightweight legend with a statue.

Buchanan famously lost his world title to a low blow from “Hands of Stone” Roberto Duran in 1972.

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Now Leith-born Welsh and the trustees of the fundraising venture want to immortalise the 71-year-old in stone in the capital.

Irvine Welsh.

Welsh, who grew up marvelling at Buchanan’s achievements, revealed: “Ken Buchanan was, along with Pat Stanton, my first ever sporting hero.

“My dad wouldn’t let me stay up to listen to his fight with [world lighweight champion] Ismael Laguna on the radio, as I was just a kid and had school the next day.

“But he couldn’t resist running through to wake me up and ecstatically inform me Ken had become world champion against all odds, and from that moment on I had a great love of boxing.

“I’m terrible at all sports, but I have rarely been out of gyms since although I knew from an early age that I’d never be a champion.

Irvine Welsh.

“But I have the same waist measurement at 59 that I had at 19 and that’s all thanks to Kenny.

“A dazzling skilled fighter with off-the-scale determination and supreme belief in his own ability, he won and defended his titles in foreign lands, walking into the lion’s den and coming away with the big prize. Anyone who knows anything about the politics of the fight game knows that meant that he didn’t just have to be a bit better than the opposition, he had to show massive superiority. He really did set a skyscraper of a bar for others to reach, and they still haven’t quite done it.

“Legend is an overused term in sport, but come on, how else can you describe Ken Buchanan?”

A Facebook page has been set up and funds are being raised through public and private subscription, as well as various social events and sponsorship.

Smith, a former Scottish welterweight champion who was coached and managed by Buchanan, has also set up a trust to encourage children – including those with disabilities – to participate in sport in Edinburgh and Leith. Fans are also encouraged to sign an online petition calling for Buchanan’s achievements to be recognised in a permanent form.