Featherweight boxing champion

Born: February 15, 1943;

Died: July 8, 2017

EVAN Armstrong, who has died aged 74, was one of Scotland's greatest ever featherweight boxing champions. He reigned supreme for four years, giving up his prized belt in 1974 after a 54-fight professional career in which he lost only 14.

Born in Ayr, surrender in the boxing ring was a totally alien concept to Armstrong. He only ever conceded to the very best bantamweight and featherweights during his professional career, which lasted between 1963 and 1974.

Examine the roll call of the 14 boxers who beat Armstrong in his career and you get a measure of his talent and the fact that only the very best could beat him. Future world champion David Kotey, for example, needed 11 rounds to grind the Ayrshire man down and that was at the very end of Armstrong's career. Later, Armstrong clashed with the Mexican Joe Medel in the latter's backyard and despite the high altitude the Mexican press was of the opinion that it was Armstrong, not Medal, who should have received the points verdict.

Armstrong was only ever knocked once in his career - by the South African world champion Arnold Taylor in his home country and in his prime.

Even in his amateur career, only the best could master Armstrong. Thus in 1962 it took the eventual Scottish Commonwealth gold medal winner John McDermott to defeat Armstrong in a box-off in Possilpark

McDermott responded to Armstrong's death by paying tribute to his old rival. "Evan Armstrong was one of the best boxers and hardest punchers that I ever encountered," said McDermott. "He was also a lovely man outside the ring.''

With 39 wins in 54 contests, Armstrong was more acquainted with ring triumph than defeat. Witness his knockout in 1966 of Edinburgh's former 1958 Commonwealth games gold flyweight medallist Jackie Brown, a superb ring stylist. Also noteworthy was Armstrong's defeat of Edinburgh's supposed featherweight wonderkid Vernon Sollas.

Similarly, in 1971, Armstrong came from being well behind on points to Londoner Jimmy Revie to win the British featherweight title and Lonsdale Belt by stopping Revie in the 12th round. Three years later, Armstrong travelled 12,000 miles to Brisbane to stop Aussie Bobby Dunne in the eighth round for the Commonwealth nine-stone crown.

Survivor of a fractured skull in his youth after a cycling accident, Armstrong showed that he was a champion too in dealing with deep personal adversity. Faced with his daughter suffering from spina bifida and his wife becoming seriously ill, he still managed to look after his two children, work as a labourer and carry out demanding boxing training at the same time.

Fishing, breeding rabbits and following the fortunes of Ayr United were Armstrong's main non-boxng hobbies.

Later life was cruel to Armstrong as he suffered progressively from Alzheimers disease. In 1998, in an interview with The Herald, he spoke about his first problems with his memory and how painting had helped him focus his thoughts.

''Boxing is definitely the cause of my problems but I would do it all again," he said. "Fighting was my life. Now I have taken to painting and it is wonderful for me and I feel it is helping improve my condition. When I was at school I had no interest in art and I would rather have been in a playground fight.''

Mr Armstrong said his head injuries were first noticed when he was working as an electricity linesman.

He said: ''My neighbour was always behind the wheel and it was me up the poles working with 33,000 volts. He drove me to a farm one day and I had to go back the next day alone. I thought I knew the area like the back of my hand but I just couldn't find the farm.

''I had no idea where it was or how to find it and I was then sent to hospital and scans revealed I had cerebral injuries. I now have trouble with my sight as well as my memory and some people say my speech is affected.''

Armstrong is survived by his family and his many friends and admirers within the wider British boxing community.