Crowded gathering packs funeral of Crawley boxing legend John Hillier

Ex-boxers Lee Puddephat, Clint Jones, Bob Edgeworth and Johnny Pincham at Crawley Boxing Club founder John Hillier's funeral
Ex-boxers Lee Puddephat, Clint Jones, Bob Edgeworth and Johnny Pincham at Crawley Boxing Club founder John Hillier's funeral

Family, friends and many former colleagues from Crawley Boxing Club came to pay their last respects to the club's founder and popular trainer John Hillier.

A packed gathering at the Surrey and Sussex Crematorium included many ex-boxers and several former champions who came to say goodbye to the man who had taught them to box.

Mickey Minter and Ross 'The Boss' Minter at John Hillier's funeral

Mickey Minter and Ross 'The Boss' Minter at John Hillier's funeral


Among those present were the brother and son of former undisputed World middleweight champion Alan Minter, Mickey and Ross 'The Boss'.


Among the many former boxers included Johnny Pincham, Clint Jones, Bob Edgeworth who is now timekeeper for the British Boxing Board of Control, Dennis 'Ginger' Forsythe, Henry 'The Hook' Spencer, Mick Wyeth, Peter Hopcraft Senior and junior.


Hillier died on December 30 aged 85 following a long illness suffering from Alzheimer's Disease.


He left his wife of 64 years Connie, daughter June Blackwell, son Mark, six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Former boxers, family and friends gather before the funeral of Crawley Boxing Club legend John Hillier.

Former boxers, family and friends gather before the funeral of Crawley Boxing Club legend John Hillier.


During the service, the gathering heard touching tributes from Celebrant Croianna Bradshaw, who conducted the service and read further tributes from son Mark, whose tribute recalled fond memories of John taking him many times to watch Crystal Palace who he supported.


Further tributes were read from grandson Carl and granddaughter Charlotte.


John's daughter June read a heartfelt poem she had written for the occasion which included the lines: "You lived the way you wanted, your dreams you made come true, there's lots of happy memories of the time I spent with you.


"Whether you were in the ring or buying a car or two, I always knew you cared for me whatever you would do."

Members of John Hillier's family from left: wife Connie, grand-daughter Edie, 11, daughter June, grand-daughters Annie, five, Lexi, eight and Ellie, nine

Members of John Hillier's family from left: wife Connie, grand-daughter Edie, 11, daughter June, grand-daughters Annie, five, Lexi, eight and Ellie, nine


Boxers he had trained gave their tributes after the ceremony and at the wake held at Heathy Farm pub in Pound Hill.


Former Southern Counties champion and longstanding club chairman Geoff Hopcraft said: "John set up the club in Tilgate Forest huts with my Dad Arthur in 1960.


"He was a good trainer, he was dedicated. He was a gentleman as well as a trainer and was very knowledgeable about boxing.


Four times Southern Counties champion Clint Jones said: "I was fitter under John than at any other time in my career - I won because of him and he taught me everything I knew.


ABA semi-finalist Bob Edgeworth said: "John was very dedicated to kids. He was a lovely man - he was like a second father to the kids."


Former Southern Counties champion and ex-pro' Mickey Minter said: "John was my trainer as well as Alan's (Minter) and Johnny Pincham and he trained us hard but was a lovely man. It was a proper old school gym and you had to train hard to win.


"John was a boxing legend - no-one else did what he did."


Dennis 'Ginger' Forsythe said: "He had such a knowledge of so many things. I never saw lose his temper!"