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Film will make Benny Lynch 'look like tramp' Cousin takes swing at portrayal of boxer

ONE of the last remaining close relatives of Benny Lynch, the tragic Scottish boxer, has made public her concern that a new film about the sporting legend will portray him as a tramp.

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Josie Livingston, MBE, the cousin of Lynch, remembers the world champion boxer as a dignified and smartly-dressed man, rather than the derelict figure seen in the version of his life written by Bill Bryden, the leading Scottish writer and director. Last month, Bryden revealed he was to make a film version of his 1970s' play, Benny, which depicted the rise and fall of the boxer who thrilled Scotland in the 1930s. He said it would ''be something that Scotland can be proud of, nationally and internationally'' and the producers hoped to make the boxer a popular hero again. However, Ms Livingston, 83, daughter of Rebecca Lynch, the sister of Benny's father John, remembers Lynch as being polite and well-dressed even when he was struggling with alcoholism, and not the dishevelled figure which she saw on stage in the 1970s. She was particularly upset to see the theatrical version of Lynch foraging in dustbins for food, with his trousers held up by string: images which she thought were denigrating to the boxer. Ms Livingston, who lives in Castlemilk, Glasgow, said her cousin had stayed a dignified figure until the end of his short life. She remembers the boxer visiting her family home, and being scolded by her mother for being ''conceited'' because of his smart apparel. She also disputes the popular perception of how he died, being found comatose near the River Clyde. Instead she remembers the boxer checking himself into a Glasgow hospital, because he knew his health was failing. Ms Livingston said: ''I don't mind a film being made about Benny Lynch as long as they stick to the truth, and not the way that Bill Bryden did it (in the play). The play more or less showed him as a down-and-out, which wasn't true. He did have a problem: just couldn't stop drinking.'' Lynch has two more cousins left alive who remember the boxer - one lives in Fife, the other in the United States. Ms Livingston added: ''He would never have looked in bins for food. He shopped at my brother's shop in Sinclair Drive not two weeks before he died. I think Mr Bryden should speak to people who knew him well.'' Bryden's play, first staged in 1973, was in three acts and was billed as an ''imaginative biography'' with some invented characters. At the time Bryden said: ''It is the tragic story of a star. He became an alcoholic and a tramp but he was the greatest flyweight we have had.'' The new film, Benny, will depict the story of the Gorbals-born boxer who captured the imagination of the Scottish public in the 1930s, becoming champion of the world before succumbing to alcoholism and dying of malnutrition on August 8, 1946, at the age of 33. Written by Bryden, it is to star Iain Robertson, the young Scottish actor, in the title role, and is due to start filming in Glasgow late this year. Lynch is generally considered as one of the greatest fighters in British boxing history. He was born in 1913, and, standing at only 5ft 5in tall, turned professional in 1931. He developed his formidable punching power in the arduous environment of travelling boxing booths, which were then a popular form of entertainment. He was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame in 1998. Controversial bio-pics Citizen Kane Orson Welles's movie was a thinly-veiled depiction of the magnate William Randolph Hearst.

Amadeus The 1984 version of Peter Shaffer's play was acclaimed, although some critics said the eccentric performance of Tom Hulce as Mozart portrayed him as an annoying buffoon. Chariots of Fire The 1981 film of the inspirational life of Eric Liddell did not tell how he found out about the 100m heat being held on a Sunday months in advance of the Paris games.

Jesus The Last Temptation of Christ invited outrage, while The Greatest Story Ever Told was labelled boring.

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