By Rory Reynolds
THE BOXING gym that trained Scotland’s first world champion is to receive a £250,000 makeover to restore it to its former glory.
The Leith Victoria Boxing Club, which was set up in 1919, produced ring-legend Johnny Hill.
At just 23 the Edinburgh-born fighter became Scotland’s first world champion in 1928.
He took the belt in the same 18 months that he had become British and European flyweight champion.
The club, which also trained Alex Arthur, the recent WBO super featherweight world champion, celebrated its 90th birthday last year, making the amateur venue the oldest in Scotland.
It was originally set up by Scotland’s first Lonsdale belt winner, flyweight Tancy Lee, along with Leith shipyard workers.
Councillor Jim Lowrie, planning convener for the Edinburgh City Council, said: “The Victoria Boxing Club is one of the many significant buildings which give us a glimpse into Leith’s rich and diverse past.
“It is wonderful that many of them can be preserved, thanks to The Townscape Heritage Initiative.”
The refurbishment is part of a revamp of some of Leith’s best-known landmarks, with the club being the second highest priority for the area.
Funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic Scotland has been used for vital repairs to stonework and the building’s external fabric to be carried out.
And the centre also boasts recent major improvements which were carried out with funds from the Leith Neighbourhood Partnership.
Its most famous boxer Johnny Hill became world champion in 1928, altogether winning the British, European and world title in just 18 months.
Despite being known for his intensive training and clan-living Hill died at just 23 from pneumonia.
His successful world title bid was described by at the time by This Sporting Life as “the greatest flyweight contest seen in this country since the war”.