Errol Christie, one of Britain’s most decorated amateur boxers, died Sunday aged 53 after losing his fight with lung cancer.
Leicester-born and Coventry-raised Christie won a record ten national titles at amateur level before turning professional at the age of 19 — where he regularly appeared on UK terrestrial television.
Christie — who worked with promoter Frank Warren — was watched by large audiences on free-to-air ITV in the 1980s, but his potential as an amateur did not lead to success in the punch-for-pay business and a professional title eluded him.
“Errol didn’t follow through the promise he showed in the amateurs in the pro game,” Warren told ESPN.
“He was a very personable guy, always smiling, but unfortunately he didn’t have what it takes at the top level.
“He was a brilliant amateur and we thought he was going to be the next Sugar Ray Leonard. He had a string of wins and all of his fights were televised on ITV, so he had a great profile back then.
“Then he trained for a bit at Emanuel Steward’s Kronk gym in Detroit, against my advice, and he came back a different fighter because there were a lot of gym wars there. He got beat by Jose Seys and then there were other defeats. He couldn’t take a shot.”
Two years after his professional in 1982, Christie was stopped by Belgium’s Jose Seys. Three months earlier he enjoyed a stoppage win on the undercard of Thomas Hearns-Roberto Duran at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
Christie was knocked out in the eighth round by Mark Kaylor in the most high profile fight of his career at Wembley Arena in 1985.
The pair met each other in a British middleweight title eliminator after brawling at a press conference to announce their fight. Christie accused Kaylor of calling him an “ugly black b*****” and the pair then fought outside a London hotel in the rain.
Further stoppage defeats followed to the likes of James Cook and Michael Watson before Christie’s career finished on 32-8-1, 26 KOs in 1993.
After boxing he worked as a personal trainer, market trader and had a spell as a stand-up comedian.
Derby County and Republic of Ireland footballer Cyrus Christie tweeted about his uncle:
RIP champ legends never die..heart is broken rest in paradise uncle your not in pain anymore..till we meet again ??? pic.twitter.com/5D6o7Z2YI5
— Cyrus Christie (@cyruschristie) June 11, 2017
Christie was diagnosed with cancer in 2015 and died Sunday.
His legacy in British boxing will never be forgotten.