Boxer Born May 7, 1938 Died July 11, 2009

John Caldwell, who has died of throat cancer aged 71, was a former world bantamweight boxing champion. A proud Irishman who won a flyweight bronze medal in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, he was managed by Glasgow bookmaker and boxing promoter Sammy Docherty and trained by legendary Glaswegian coach Joe Aitchison at the latter's ramshackle but renowned Dalmarnock gym in the east end of the city.

Born in Cyprus Street off the Falls Road area of Belfast, the young Caldwell excelled at both soccer and table tennis, but once he had his first taste of boxing at the Northern Irish capital's Immaculta amateur boxing club run by his amateur mentor, Jack McCusker, the young Caldwell was hooked and by the age of 17 had indicated his outstanding ring potential when in 1955 he won all three bouts during a tour of West Germany.

Caldwell's bitter rival and fellow southpaw, Freddie Gilroy, won bantamweight silver in Melbourne while Caldwell took bronze in the flyweight division where Londoner Terry Spinks took the 1956 flyweight gold.

After enjoying a rapturous welcome from his fellow Falls Road inhabitants on return from Australia, Caldwell worked for a time at his trade as a pipe fitter but after what proved his last bout as an amateur in Belfast in January 1958, found himself being courted by Docherty, who had progressed the career of Glasgow bantamweight Peter Keenan - the only Scot to win two Lonsdale belts outright. Similarly, Docherty put his new boy Caldwell under the shrewd direction of Aitchison.

Once in Glasgow, Caldwell lived up to his nickname of the "cold-eyed killer'', cutting a swathe through Britain and Europe's top flyweights. He stopped Stirlingshire's Frankie Jones to win Jones's Lonsdale belt and British eight-stone crown; he also defeated Welsh former British flyweight champion Dai Dower and Spain's European champion Young Martin.

Marriage to his childhood sweetheart Bridget only spurred Caldwell on to seek greater glory and cash. Indeed, so famed did Caldwell's Joe Aitchison-inspired training regime become that then Celtic manager, Jimmy McGrory, was moved to invite the Irish champion to Parkhead to put his players through their paces.

Again, with his deadly rival Freddie Gilroy relieving Glaswegian Peter Keenan of his British bantamweight crown in Janaury 1959, Caldwell moved up into the 8st 6lbs division and was equally devastating at that new weight.

So much so that in May 1961 Caldwell gained both the European portion of the world bantamweight title and revenge by beating French-Algerian Alphonse Halimi who had beaten him previously in a non title joust.

As the first Irishman to win a world title since flyweight Rinty Monaghan in 1948, Caldwell was once again lionised in his Belfast hometown even though he knew that sooner or later he would have to fight Brazilian Eder Jofre, who was recognised as world bantamweight champion in the Americas and the USA .

When he did so in February 1962 in Sao Paulo, Aitchison was absent after falling out with Docherty and a below par Caldwell lost by tenth round stoppage to make Jofre the undisputed king of the world's bantams.

However, there was one piece of unfinished ring business to be taken care of - his much anticipated clash with Gilroy, who had beaten Keenan for the latter's British crown in January 1959. Consequently, in October 1962, before 15,000 fans, it was Gilroy who emerged victorious when Caldwell retired due to a cut eye in the ninth round.

But even though Caldwell won back the Commonwealth and British bantamweight titles by beating Englishman George Bowes in Belfast in 1964, recurring eye trouble eventually saw him retire and return to pipefitting.

In 1993 Caldwell said: "My happiest memories were of training under Joe Aitchison in that ramshackle old gym in Dalmarnock and of the many friends that my family and I made in Glasgow - things might have ben different in Sao Paolo in 1962 against Eder Jofre had Joe Aitchison been in my corner."

Cadwell had been suffering for some time from the throat cancer that finally killed him.

Perhaps his greatest epitaph was the tribute paid to him in a recent Irish boxing history book: "Of all the boxers from this island who have scaled the heights of the Noble Art one man's name is held consistently in higher esteem than all the others. That man is John Caldwell...." By BRIAN DONALD