A LARGS boxer has looked back on a knockout career that carried him to a national title while still a teenage fighter.

Tommy Marshall spoke to the News about the highs and lows of his time in the ring as he celebrated 50 years since being crowned Scotland amateur champion.

Tommy, 69, had only been in the sport for two years when he outlasted former champ Badon Mitchell at 1.20am in Edinburgh to lift the Scottish Amateur Lightweight Title.

He cites trainer William Bowie, an ex-policeman who himself held Scottish and European Amateur belts, as the biggest influence on a career that saw him rub shoulders with boxing legends like Jim Watt and Ken Buchanan.

Tommy says: "He was ex-Merchant Navy and obviously saw potential in me.

"Dedication is the most important thing in boxing, out training at the crack of the dawn, and it paid off for me. "I had good speed, footwork, and a solid left jab. I was a Ken Buchanan type fighter and one of the youngest guys to win a Scottish title.

"Jim Watt and me kicked off at the same time together and while he went on to greater things, I appeared on the same bills in some of the big boxing nights in the 60s.

"He beat me in 1966 and you could see he was on the way to big things."

Tommy took up the sport at 16 and would regularly train at the Garnock Valley Club, which was the nearest to Largs at the time and his potential was quickly spotted.

His potential was highlighted at a bout held in 1966 at Barrfields Pavilion in Largs, which was attended by the Earl and Countess of Glasgow.

The News reported on the fight, saying: "A popular victory, particularly with the local crowd, was that of Tommy Marshall, who won a unanimous verdict on points against Jim Mount of Larkfield in Greenock.

"Marshall, a boy of promise, fought with cleverness and effectiveness and was always on top."

Tommy recalled the start of his boxing journey.

He said: "My mother paid for my bus fare to go up at first, but after a while the club paid my bus fare.

"The shipworkers kept it going by chipping in penny every week off their wages.

"I was a steel fixer at Hunterston and worked up and down the country while also fighting.

"The bouts were in smoke-filled halls back then - you couldn't see the crowd for the smoke and the bright lights of the boxing ring. It's changed so much now."

Such was the appeal of boxing during the 60s and 70s, when Glasgow had upwards of 30-40 boxing clubs (it currently has two), Tommy was in demand around the country to take part in unlicensed fights at various functions.

He said: "I ended up with 79 senior amateur fights and also took part in some unlicensed shows at dinner events, but it suited me as by that time in my career I was travelling a lot with my work.

"I did a number of shows in Glasgow, Fife, Aberfoyle and even one in Shetland.

"The unlicensed fights were good money, with £100 to the winner. I was steel fixing during the week and boxing on the Saturday night."

Tommy cites Ken Buchanan and Muhammad Ali as among his boxing idols and not only has he become good friends with Buchanan over the years, he also met his idol Ali when he fought at Paisley Ice Rink in the 1960s.

Tommy regularly meets up with fellow figures from the sport's past and even bumped into singer James Blunt when he was with Buchanan at a boxing function a few years ago.

But meting Ali was his highlight.

Tommy said: "Ali was something else; he was a brilliant athlete. I remember when I got a ticket for the fight - I was over the moon and couldn't sleep that night.

"He came out the enemy of the crowd after overcoming three big sparring partners, and did 3x3 round exhibitions, but at the end of the night the crowd started booing him.

"So Ali grabbed the microphone and said, 'Hey you guys, you are only paying a few dollars to see me fight nine rounds, they paid thousands of dollars in America to see me knockout Sonny Liston in one!

"He certainly gave them an answer - and he autographed my copy of Boxing Weekly."