THE narrative is a familiar one: a talented and revered sportsman, a fall from grace and a divisive legacy.

This is the story of Benny Lynch but it is a story told many times about so many prominent men, one that raises questions with no easy answers.

Benny Lynch is a hero son of Glasgow, known for being a champion of the people but all but ignored by the powers that be.

A group of local campaigners are close to raising the money needed for a statue honouring him, to be erected in the Gorbals where he was born and raised.

But Lynch had convictions for both child abuse and domestic abuse – so, particularly in the evolving #MeToo era, is a statue for Benny the right thing to do?

Lily Greenan, deputy director of Zero Tolerance, the charity working to end male violence against women, would say no. "We understand that the community would like a statue of Benny Lynch as he is a local hero," she said.

"But we would strongly question if this is the sort of local hero that we should be commemorating.

"He was convicted of two separate violent assaults on women and young girls.

"These actions, and the actions of all violent men, should not be excused or forgotten because they are or were talent sportsmen, popular politicians, or celebrities of any sort."

Born in 1913 to Irish parents in the Gorbals, Lynch died just 33 years later after a battle with chronic alcoholism that left him penniless and ultimately killed him.

In the interim, he achieved boxing fame and fortune, becoming Scotland's first World Champion boxer and earning the adulation of Glasgow.

Since 2015, when the Statue for Benny campaign began, Benny's name has reentered the city's consciousness with great praise for the man described in an obituary in 1946 as "a veritable artist of the ring".

Film star Robert Carlyle is patron of the campaign, world champion boxer Jim Watt has lent his weight with fundraising support, and the city's former Lord Provost supported and praised the idea.

The Statue for Benny campaign group also wants to set up a legacy project that would support people into sport, such as scholarships for talented youths.

The Staffordshire Sentinel, Monday, March 6, 1939. Headline: Scene in house described.

"Benny Lynch, former Flyweight Champion of the world, was fined £20 at Hamilton today for assault.

"He was found Guilty of assaulting his wife, 11-years-old sister-in-law, and three police constables.

"Mrs Lynch, who is 24, was informed that she was not obliged to testify against her husband, but elected to do so.

"She said she had been separated from him for six weeks, but returned to him on February 16.

"There was a dispute, and he went out, returning at night.

"When she was at home with her son and sister, Mrs Lynch said he came in "screaming and shouting."

"He said to her, "Get out of this house," and kicked her on the back.

"Saying, "I will show you," Lynch, she declared, took the baby into the kitchen and held him over the gas stove, declaring: "I'll gas him."

"When she attempted to get the baby, her husband kicked her on the legs.

"Mrs Lynch, who was under the stress of great emotion, stated that her husband put the baby on the floor and said: "Look at him - he's dizzy."

"He then got her by the ears and hair and, when her sister tried to push him away, he turned and kicked the sister.

"Tears streamed down Mrs Lynch's face as she was cross-examined, and she was allowed to be seated."

Lynch was drunk during the attack and, on arrival at the police station, said he couldn't remember what had happened.

The Staffordshire Sentinel court report goes on to give the response of Lynch's defence lawyer, adding: "[Lynch] had been making a real struggle to get fit again and felt ashamed that he, who could control himself in the ring better than anyone in the world, should be unable to control himself in his own home.

"[The lawyer] had been asked to contest strongly that Lynch, who loved his children, should be charged with the offence relating to the baby."

The Statue for Benny campaign worked with Glasgow Life, which runs the city's museum and sport centres, to develop an exhibition about the boxer, which ended up travelling around the city for three years.

Open Museum outreach assistant Kevin Kerrigan curated the display, which, after dozens of people came forward to donate Benny Lynch-related objects, ended up with a larger space in the People's Palace museum.

"The group wanted to tell a more positive story about Benny Lynch but I was always very clear that any exhibition would have to be balanced, it would have to contain both sides of the story," said Kerrigan.

"And it does go into quite a lot of detail about his alcoholism but next to that are the very positive things, his gloves and his trophies. It showcases his achievements.

"He achieved a lot in his career but his downfall was alcohol, that fed into his convictions - such as for drink driving."

For Kerrigan, who is writing a book called Finding Benny, Lynch is a tragic, complex figure who the city should be proud of.

"There is no excuse for [domestic violence] but there can be causes," he adds.

"He has no convictions from before 1935. If you want to look for a cause [drink] is one of them.

"Every single one of the newspaper reports mention that he was intoxicated. He was a flawed character.

"We are reframing things based on today's social norms and taking these incidents as standalone events then yes, we have to condemn them.

"But there wasn't the help then that there is now.

"Benny Lynch didn't get a second chance to recover or recant. All the problems in his life killed him. He died."

Marsha Scott, chief executive of Scottish Women’s Aid, would disagree. "In the same breath as we often hear that there is no excuse for domestic abuse, we also hear that it is by and large the fault of alcohol, mental health, poverty, fame, or in historical cases – the product of a society with different morals to those we have now," she said.

"The reality is this abuse of power has never been acceptable. To this day perpetration of domestic abuse is excused, minimised and considered inconvenient, especially so when it stands in the way of our wanting to celebrate a man with a talent.

"Those conveniently forgotten in this discourse are of course victim-survivors, the women who experience pain – physical and emotional – inflicted by abusers.

"In our view it is their strength and courage that merits celebrating, not those responsible for doing harm."

There are records of Lynch trying to seek help for his alcoholism. He was sent to England for treatment and he would take the ferry to a monastery in Ireland to try and dry out.

As Mr Kerrigan says, he "shook it off" but as soon as he was back in his former circles, the old problems would begin again.

Under the influence of drink, Lynch racked up a slew of criminal convictions, including drink driving and child abuse.

Liverpool Echo, Wednesday, October 21, 1942. Headline: Benny Lynch Fined for Incident with girls in cinema

"Benny Lynch, the former world fly-weight boxing champion, was fined one guinea with the option of 10 days imprisonment at Govan (Glasgow) today for assaulting two girls, aged seven and 10, in a cinema."

The circumstances are certainly odd. Lynch had gone to the cinema, to a matinee showing, and opted to sit next to a group of four very young girls.

One of the children asked to move seats because she did not want to sit next to a strange man. Rather than moving, Lynch assaulted the girl.

"Lynch asked her if she was frightened and then put his arm round her neck.

"The girl began to cry, and an usherette informed the manager. Lynch then changed his seat.

"A solicitor for Lynch said the accused had had some drink.

"Men with drink were very fond of children, and a wrong construction had been put on the case."

Lynch was only 33 when he died. His fame had been exceptional and his rapid decline even more so. His career was finished by 1938 and he was dead in 1946, dying of malnutrition induced respiratory failure.

His is said to have made the equivalent of £5 million in today's money but died penniless.

Kerrigan said: "Had he cleaned up his act and had the opportunity to make amends, to tell people that what he did was wrong and that he regretted it, who knows what he might have amounted to.

"Some people have the chance to redeem themselves and some don't.

"He clearly wanted to get past it. He was fighting it, he knew it was killing him and hurting him and his family."

Whether Lynch would have recovered from his alcoholism is impossible to say, and what he would have done during recovery – make amends or not – is similarly unknowable.

What we do know is that famous sportsmen are often given a free pass simply because they are talented, they generate money for their clubs and they have legions of supporters willing to overlook their abuses of power.

What would a statue for Benny Lynch say about modern Glasgow?

"We are erecting a statue to someone who has these dark sides and to an extent I would agree that there's a thing of celebrity where we bend light around certain people, no matter what they have done," Kerrigan adds.

"I think it's a celebrity problem, rather than a sport problem. Film stars and actors, male and female, who have had problems with drugs and alcohol are still revered.

"The women's group's concerns are legitimate and they should be heard.

"But if you look around the city at the statues and the artworks we have, they are not all squeaky clean characters. A lot of people from the past that we celebrate are very flawed characters and can we really judge them by modern standards?

"Half of the artists in the city's collections have very colourful pasts and yet people revere them. What do we do about that?

"Jimmy Boyle is revered as an artist and yet he spent time in Barlinnie's Special Unit for much worse crimes – domestic abuse is a terrible crime – but this man committed murder.

"And people revere him as an artist. Do people not deserve a second chance?"

For feminist groups, who have argued these points endlessly, the answer is straightforward. In Glasgow, where there are only four statues of women, a tribute to a known domestic abuser would be a backwards step.

"This year’s unveiling of a statue of Mary Barbour brings the number of statues of women in Glasgow up to a grand total of four," a spokeswoman for Engender said.

"Despite this underrepresentation, the latest calls for a new statue for the city are for yet another man, this time commemorating boxer Benny Lynch.

"But as well as being held up by some as the one of the greatest flyweights in boxing history, Lynch was a known abuser; convicted of assaulting his estranged wife in 1939, and of assaulting two young girls in a Glasgow cinema three years later.

"Yet read any of the various articles about Lynch, or the calls for him to be commemorated in film or stone, and these facts will be mysteriously missing.

"References which do exist to his alcoholism and a troubled past only serve to perpetuate myths about domestic abuse, and gloss over Lynch’s violence against women.

"This is yet another example of a man’s sporting abilities erasing their abuse towards women.

"In the year where we saw #MeToo shine a light on the sexual harassment and assault being carried out by men in positions of power, we would hope that a man convicted of assault, no matter how good he was at winning in the ring, was not worthy of being commemorated in Scotland’s cities."

Benny's son, Bobby, said: "My father's story was one of a human being who defied the odds to become a world famous sportsman.

"It was in a time when there was no support for those in his position, there was a depression, two wars and alcohol was a blight on society.

"It wasn’t an excuse, but Benny achieved so much and brought so much joy in such a dark time.

"My mother recalled her time with him fondly and it’s such a shame he didn’t have the opportunity to pull himself out of his dark times as many with the right support and help can do.

"As a family, we have always hoped that his achievements are always at the forefront and it’s only now that we are really celebrating what he achieved.

"For many years the public poured over his sad last days and we hope to move on from that."