Boxer and boxing coach;
Born: January 25, 1930; Died: October 10, 2013.
Robert Cecil Horne, known as Bobby, who has died aged 83, was a talented boxer and boxing coach, a leading member of the famed Sparta Amateur Boxing Club in Edinburgh and one of the giants of 20th century Scottish amateur boxing. In the 1950s, the respected veteran boxing journalist Bill Cairns called Horne "the greatest boxer I have ever seen in 40 years at ringside".
One of the outstanding features of the Sparta club, which produced greats like former world lightweight champion Ken Buchanan, was the high number of middle-class boys it attracted from day one. Many of them went on to become household names thanks to the frequency with which they appeared on televised boxing shows in the 1950s and 60s.
Horne was the son of an impeccably middl-class Edinburgh brewery master maltster and quickly found success after joining Sparta, which was founded in McDonald Road, off Leith Walk, in 1946 by the ex-Scottish amateur middleweight champion Jimmy Henderson. By 1954, a top English bantamweight who had experienced Horne's much admired brand of technical ring brilliance said: "He is the best ring technician that I have met in 97 bouts."
However, despite being the only home-based boxer to defeat a Soviet opponent in a 1955 Scotland v USSR international clash in Glasgow, Horne had to wait until the twilight of his career to win a Scottish bantamweight title.
With his short-back-and-sides hairstyle, his ultra-conservative dress code - which conspicuously spurned 1950s/60s teenage fashions - and his quiet, polite demeanour, he was light years removed from the stereotypical image of a boxer.
Given his natural gentlemanly mien and impeccable manners, few would have taken him for the immensely tough and skilled ring technician that he was. His fighting soul and his chin were pure steel. This was a result of him fearlessly sparring with ferocious punching Sparta clubmates like Bobby Neill - who won his British pro 9 stone title in 1959 by explosively decking his opponent ten times. Another sparring partner was the fierce-hitting Scottish bantamweight champion, Eddie Carson, an ex-church choirboy who was so ruthless inside the ropes that Glaswegian Peter Keenan - a true Caledonian great who uniquely won two Lonsdale belts outright - refused to give Carson a return match. Yet Horne routinely faced Carson in the latter's best attempts to knock him out in weekly sessions by deft displays of evasion manoeuvres in the McDonald Road gym.
John Smillie, who won Empire Games bantam gold in Vancouver in 1954, once knocked Horne down eight times in one of their nine clashes, but Horne demonstrated the iron in his soul by ending up ahead 5-4 overall in their nine classic clashes which packed venues like Edinburgh's Music Hall in George Street.
One peculiarity of Horne's career was that he was beaten by two rivals who subsequently became top British boxing journalists: Glasgow's Dick Currie, flyweight gold medal winner at the Vancouver Empire Games in 1954, and Frankie Taylor, who became president of the British Boxing Writers' Association in 1969. Taylor defeated Horne in 1960, the latter's final year as a competitive boxer.
From 1960, he became a top coach with his former Sparta club, where he played a significant role in developing and propelling the young Buchanan towards world title glory later in the 1970s - something Buchanan and his father Tommy freely acknowledged. Indeed, on being told of Horne's death, Buchanan said: "I am devastated - many of the moves which I used so successfully had their birth in Sparta gym sessions when I was a kid being taught by Bobby Cecil Horne."
But in the mid 1960s, Horne made a dramatic, surprising and clean exit from boxing, turning his back on the sport completely while becoming a good-class badminton player.
Afflicted by Alzheimer's disease in his latter years, he was cherished by his wife Margaret and his sons, Robert junior and Ian and his three grandchildren, who survive him. He is also held in great fondness and respect in the collective memories of the countless boxers and would-be contenders he coached and inspired at Sparta ABC.
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