TRIBUTES have been paid to legendary Southampton boxing trainer Jack Bishop, who has died at the age of 94.

Bishop, nicknamed ‘Mr Boxing’, kept the professional side of the sport alive in Southampton almost single handily for three decades, and trained ten champions, including Gary Cooper, Steve McCarthy and Colin Kenna.

He passed away peacefully in his sleep at the weekend.

Bishop was awarded the British Empire Medal in the Queen’s Honours List in 2014, and was one of the country’s most celebrated and revered trainers.

Despite his advancing years he still made frequent visits to his gym in Captain’s Place, Southampton, to help guide the next generation of young fighters.

Southampton boxing stalwart Stuart Gill, head coach at Millbrook’s legendary Golden Ring ABC, led the tributes from within the city’s boxing community.

He said: “It is very sad news.

“Jack helped keep professional boxing alive in Southampton at a time when boxers were having to go to London or Bristol if they wanted to fight professionally.

“To train two British champions as well with Steve McCarthy and Gary Cooper was a fantastic achievement.

“The whole of the local boxing community will miss him.”

Bishop’s death comes a year-and-a-half after his long-time side kick John Chapman passed away, and just over a month after McCarthy died.

It was perhaps a McCarthy fight at Southampton Guildhall that was the most notorious of Bishop’s training career, when opponent Tony Wilson’s mother entered the ring and attacked his fighter with her shoe. In the ensuing melee Bishop was stabbed in the arm

Bishop, a former marine and World War II veteran who served in the likes of Holland, France, Belgium, Yugoslavia, Italy, Sicily, North Africa and Palestine, had his first boxing bout in 1933.

He later switched to being a trainer before moving south to Fareham where he made his name, tirelessly working to promote and help his fighters.

His champions included Jan Magdziarz, Gary Cooper, Steve and Paul McCarthy, Danny Ruegg, Colin Kenna, Steve Ede and Sammy Couzens.

Local trainer Wayne Batten has carried on the pro tradition in the city having been mentored by Bishop.

“He is involved in my first memories of boxing,” recalled Batten.

“My uncle boxed professionally for Jack and I went down the gym and joined in the training and had a few amateur fights.

“When I got my trainer’s licence Jack invited me to work with him in the corner of a show he was putting on at Southampton Guildhall, which was a great experience.

“Jack was an inspiration.

“Boxing is a great sport but it is a tough one, and Jack was doing it all – training, managing and promoting. I have so much respect for him.”