A BOXING legend made a knockout return visit to South Tyneside to meet hundreds of sporting fans.
Ex-world heavyweight champion Larry Holmes hosted an ‘evening with’ event at Hedworth Hall, South Shields.
The event attracted more than 100 boxing fans, all keen to meet the man who beat Muhammad Ali, and to question him on what he thinks of the sport today.
Accompanied by his family, Holmes posed for pictures and signed autographs for those who had travelled to the venue in Dean Road, South Shields.
He said: “I came to South Shields five years ago, and it’s great to be back. The people are great.
“I am a multi-millionaire, I own a lot of businesses. I don’t come for the money, I come to meet different people. For people to take time to come and see me is great. I love it.
“It’s great to see a lot of young boxing fans and it’s great that I am seen as a role model after 38 years in the business.
“Boxing today has changed from when we were young. We sacrificed a lot, dedicated and disciplined ourselves. We wanted to be the heavyweight champion of the world. Today, it seems to be about the money. It has to be more than that.”
During the night, Holmes was handed gifts from the Mayor of South Tyneside, Coun Ernest Gibson, before taking questions from the floor – including his memories of boxing against Ali, the criticism he received in his younger days and how he was told he wouldn’t be a heavyweight champion.
The event is one of a number of boxing-related events hosted by the venue, with past guests including Frank Bruno and Nigel Benn.
Hedworth Hall manager Gavin Yannetta said: “This was a fantastic event and it’s great Hedworth Hall has been able to bring such a sporting legend to South Tyneside.
“There was a buzz about the place, and it was great that Larry Holmes made himself so accessible to the people who had come to see him.”
Coun Gibson said: “It’s been an honour to come along to Hedworth Hall to see Larry Holmes. It is amazing what the owner of Hedworth Hall is doing – bringing these sporting legends to South Tyneside.
“Larry Holmes has also signed a number of items, which will be used to raise money for the Mayor’s Charity.”
The Mayor’s Charity is this year supporting Cancer Connections, St Clare’s Hospice, The Great North Air Ambulance and the Cystic Fibrosis Fund.