Big hitter Frank bows out of ring

Knockout: Highly respected Sheffield boxing coach Frank Middleton, who has died in his sleep aged 90.'     Picture: Steve Ellis.
Knockout: Highly respected Sheffield boxing coach Frank Middleton, who has died in his sleep aged 90.' Picture: Steve Ellis.

TRIBUTES have been paid to a Sheffield man described as a ‘giant of the boxing world’.

Frank Middleton, aged 90, died peacefully in his sleep.

He is best remembered as a stalwart of amateur boxing, with a coaching record reaching back an incredible 70 years.

Frank - who even helped train Brendan Ingle in his fighting days - was still teaching the finer points of the noble art to lads at the Sheffield Boxing Centre at the grand old age of 80.

It all began when his own son, Harvey, took up the sport as a young man.

Harvey, now 68, recalls that his dad started to train him and other young boxers at Southey Boxing Club before moving on to Hillsborough Boys’ Club where he met the young Brendan Ingle.

The pair then moved on to St Thomas’ Gym in Wincobank where Brendan built up his boxing empire. Frank later moved to St Vincent’s Boxing Club on Solly Street, and spent the last 16 years of his coaching career with Glyn Rhodes at the Sheffield Boxing Centre.

Glyn described his old friend as “a diamond - one of the nicest people you are ever likely to meet”.

He said that under his guidance hundreds of lads had been introduced to the sport.

And Brendan told The Star: “When I first came over from Ireland, Frank helped me enormously. He was the kind of man who helped everyone and he was always so reliable.

“I would say he is probably one of the most important parts of boxing in Sheffield, ever. But he always preferred to remain in the background.

“He will be sadly missed.”

Bob Wright, who coaches at Parson Cross Boxing Club, said: “Frank was a man among men - a giant in the amateur boxing world.

“He was a friend to everyone and everyone’s friend.”

Frank had been a miner during World War Two and later had jobs in the steel industry before finishing his working days as a driver at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital.

He lived around the Pitsmoor and Southey areas before moving to Loxley Court nursing home in Fir Vale, where he died.

He leaves son Harvey and daughter Eileen, two grandsons, and six granddaughters.

The funeral service will take place Grenoside Crematorium on Wednesday, January 4, at 1.15pm.