Former world champion McGowan dies

Walter McGowan lands a right on Salvatore Burruni during their world flyweight championship at Wembley in June 1966

Walter McGowan defeated Salvatore Burruni to win the world flyweight title in 1966

Former world boxing champion Walter McGowan has died, aged 73.

The Hamilton fighter won Scottish, British, European and Empire titles before defeating Italy’s Salvatore Burruni at Wembley over 15 rounds to land the world flyweight title in 1966.

In McGowan’s next fight, he won the British and Empire title at bantamweight when he defeated Alan Rudkin, again at Wembley.

He won 32 of his 40 professional fights before retiring in 1969.

McGowan had been in poor health in recent years and was living in a nursing home in Bellshill.

He died peacefully at Monklands Hospital on Monday night.

One of 10 children, McGowan is survived by a son and daughter and a grandson and grand-daughter.


Walter McGowan (left) shows Salvatore Burruni around Piccadilly after they had signed a contract to fight for the WBA world flyweight title

As an amateur fighter, he lost only twice in 124 bouts and won the British ABA flyweight title in 1961.

He turned professional under the guidance of his father Thomas, a former miner known in the ring as Joe Gans.

An elder sister told BBC Scotland that the family was immensely proud of his boxing achievements and that he would be greatly missed.

“He’s the reason my daughter is called Victoria,” she said.

“I was expecting a baby at much the same time as his world title fight against Burruni.

“He kept patting my stomach and saying, ‘Hi Vic’. I told him, ‘If it’s a girl, and if you win the world title and if our mother recovers from cancer, then I’ll call the baby Victoria.’

He said, “What do you mean ‘if’? He was so confident he would win. Well, of course he won, and my daughter – Victoria – was born the following week.”

McGowan was awarded an MBE in 1966.


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