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VERY sad news to start the new year. Ronnie Rowe passed away on Monday morning (January 6) at the awfully early age of 62. He was one of the sport’s gentlemen and will be a sad loss to Northern Area boxing in particular. Ronnie was a good amateur middleweight in the 1970s and ‘80s with Grainger Park in Newcastle and did a marvellous job building up the Birtley ABC, as it then was, training the seniors.

Among his main successes there were Jon-Lewis and Travis Dickinson and Martin Ward. Ronnie was also a decent rugby player for Chester-le-Street RFC but his boxing career was finished, along with any possible professional ambitions, by an off-field accident on a tour to the north west. He applied to the Board for a Trainer/Second’s licence in April 2010 and for a manager’s licence in October 2013, setting up the excellent Fighting Chance gym in Felling, Gateshead and training and managing the Dickinson brothers as well as several other highly regarded young pros like Jamie Humble. When pancreatic cancer was diagnosed, Ronnie was laid very low and obliged to close the Fighting Chance gym and his head trainer, Gary Barr – with him since their Birtley days – moved to the MTK operation at whose gym Ronnie would frequently be found as he fought the disease so hard and, for some while, apparently successfully. A personal piece of serendipity for me was that, the Northern Area Council having chosen Ronnie as the 2018 recipient, I was able to present him with the Maurice Cullen trophy in May of that year. R.I.P, Ronnie. I and so many others will miss you. David Venn

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THE SEQUEL – Five key questions answered ahead of next month’s Wilder-Fury rematch DREAM 2020 FIGHTS – Listing the 10 bouts that we most want to see happen this year VESTED MARVELS – Ranking the top 100 amateur boxers in the history of the sport MUCH, MUCH MORE – Including the British ratings, Roberto Duran and boxing vs MMA