Boxing: Palace gong for ‘St Glyn’

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The Queen couldn’t make it.

Inexplicably, Her Royal Highness had swapped the opportunity to pin an MBE medal to Glyn Rhodes’ lapel - and those of 90 others - for a tour of the BBC’s new billion pound Broadcasting House in the West End.

So Prince Charles stepped forward to perform the duty - and unwittingly found himself in a “Full Monty” flashback.

Sheffield Boxing Centre owner Rhodes had first met him in 1998, when the Royal had visited a project at Burton Street Hillsborough, where Rhodes’ gym still operates from.

It was one of the locations in The Full Monty and Charles, celebrating his 50th birthday at the time - amiably played out a scene from the 1997 comedy-drama, to the raunchy back-track of “Hot Stuff.”

On Friday, the boxing trainer reminded Prince Charles of their meeting and that bizarre moment, during his investiture at Buckingham Palace.

“He didn’t remember me at first, but broke out into a smile when I reminded him of the last time we’d met” said Rhodes - who has earned the nickname of ‘St Glyn of Stannington’ following his award.

“The Prince was 50 then and made a joke about how he’d changed since. I told him I’d grown a few grey hairs myself since then. It was obvious he looked back at that visit to Sheffield with a lot of fun and satisfaction.

“He said he was pleased to see the strides that British boxing had made in the community. The investiture was unbelievable moment for me” said Rhodes, who was awarded the honour in recognition of his services to boxing and young people.

“I was also very proud that my kids, Alex, Joseph and Jorja were there to witness it” said the one-time pro lightweight.

“And, outside the gates of the Palace, the reaction from 40 or 50 pals who had come down on a bus to support me was incredible.”

The roar to greet Rhodes’ return from the investiture was so loud that dozens of London sightseers raced to the main gates to see if a high profile Royal had suddenly appeared.

Random foreign visitors pleaded to have their picture taken with him - although none of them had the faintest idea who he was.

Rhodes, 53, also had to inform his followers that Charles had carried out the ceremony, rather than the Queen, whose husband was undergoing an operation at a hospital nearby.

“Somebody spread the rumour that I’d said to the Prince: ‘Where’s your Mum, then? Is she on the throne?’ “But I can categorically deny that” he laughed.

The party, which included dozens of gym users, then partied into the evening, in Mayfair, before returning up the M1.

One of the guests had been Herol ‘Bomber’ Graham, whom Rhodes regards as a significant historical contributor to the success of Sheffield as a boxing Mecca.

Graham, now a personal trainer in the capital, said: “It was great to see Glyn and all the people from Sheffield. His MBE was well deserved.”

Graham also had some words of advice for world championship-chasing Sheffielder Kell Brook.

“Kell seems to have what it takes. He needs to keep his feet moving and remember that if you punch somebody twice for every time they hit you, you want go far wrong!”

“It was business as usual the following day” said teetotaller Rhodes.

“Those looking for a day off on the back of the Palace trip were to be disappointed!”

Look out for some video from ‘St Glyn of Stannington’s’ special day on www.thestar.co.uk/boxing