Scarborough’s ex-world champion Paul Ingle has led tributes from the town’s boxing community to the great Muhammad Ali.
Ingle, who won the IBF and IBO world featherweight titles during a glittering career as an amateur and professional, said Ali inspired him to take up the gloves.
“He’s an absolute legend lost,” said Ingle.
“He was the best boxer I saw in my time, along with Thomas Hearns and Sugar Ray Leonard.
“I never had the fortune of meeting him, but he was one of the reasons I took up boxing, he inspired me.
“His hand speed, skills and pure talent were amazing to watch, he was an icon not just in boxing, but in sport in general.
“I think his fight in Manila against Joe Frazier stood out for me, they just went at it blow-for-blow.
“He was a class act and it’s a massive loss to the sport.”
Scarborough ABC coach John Brownlie added to the glowing tributes made by Ingle.
“He was my favourite boxer, and simply the greatest sporting icon ever,” said Brownlie.
“He was a brilliant boxer, but an even greater character and he not only transcended boxing, but sport as a whole.
“My earliest memory of Ali was going up the road to our neighbours as they had a colour television and watching his fight against Jerry Quarry after those years out during his ban.
“I remember thinking he was amazing to say he’d had all that time out.”
Brownlie admits he’s quizzed Scarborough ABC chairman Richard Dunn, a man who fought Ali back in 1976, about his exhanges with the great man.
Brownlie added: “I’ve obviously asked Richard about it a few times and he’s always complimentary about Ali, both in terms of boxing ability and the way he carried himself in the build-up to the fight and afterwards.”
Westway Amateur Boxing Club coach George Rhodes Snr also paid his tribute to Ali.
He said: “There haven’t been many, if any sportsmen or women who have been able to change the way people look at a sport or put a sport on the market like Ali, maybe Pele is the only other one.
“I think boxing was ready for a change when Ali came along, both in and out of the ring.
“You used to hear the promoters ranting and raving, but Ali promoted himself superbly and he also brought that extra athleticism to the ring too.
“His third fight with Joe Frazier was just brilliant with both men so determined to win and out on their feet.
“Ali’s reach went above and beyond boxing and I doubt we’ll see another sportsman like him.”