Tributes at funeral of Eltham-trained boxing legend Sir Henry Cooper
PUBLISHED: 16:03 19 May 2011
PA Wire/Press Association Images
Hundreds of fans and celebrities bowed their heads as the Union Jack-draped coffin of heavyweight boxing legend Sir Henry Cooper passed by yesterday.
Known to his army of supporters as Our ’Enery, a funeral cortege left his home in Oxted, Surrey, on its way to a private funeral in Tonbridge.
The former British, Commonwealth and European Champion who fought 55 times, knocking down Muhammad Ali in 1963, is affectionately remembered in Eltham where he trained as a youngster.
Steve Barratt, 50, from Thamesmead, owns the Eltham and District Amateur Boxing Club where the champ boxed as a junior from the age of 12 until about 16.
The father-of-two said: “Eltham sends its thoughts to the family and close friends of Sir Henry.
“He was a fantastic guy, a credit to the sport, an ambassador to everything he stood for. He had time for his supporters.
“It’s such a shame, boxing will sorely miss a character like him.
“I feel so proud that he came from here, he’s a flag bearer for the club. He was part of this place many years ago and there’s always a bit of history attached to the club which can never leave you.”
He added: “Henry never forgot where he came from — and we’ll never forget him.”
London-born Sir Henry, 76, died at his son’s house, where the funeral procession started, on May 1, aged 76.
As the procession made its way to a private service at Corpus Christi Church in Lyons Crescent, Tonbridge, scores of celebrities were spotted attending to pay their respects.
Among them were former England football manager Kevin Keegan, World Cup winner Sir Bobby Charlton and television presenter Bruce Forsyth.