A FORMER boxing champion from Largs says he fears for local fighters due to the slow death of the grassroots Ayrshire amateur scene.

Tommy Marshall, 72, won the Scottish Senior Lightweight Amateur title in 1967 and also fought internationally against the other home nations.

He believes boxing at a local level has all but died out and told the News aspiring champs from the North Coast face an uphill battle.

Tommy said: “You don’t hear of any amateur shows here now and young boys are turning professional with no experience.

“The sport for youngsters is dying out. The days of boxing shows at Barrfields are gone and very rarely can you go to a fight anywhere in Ayrshire now.

“All the shows now are big wine and dine events It’s more of a social thing that's about making money for the promoters.

"When I was boxing in there were 33 amateur gyms around the west of Scotland and there were fights every night of the week.

“I think they are down to about two gyms in Glasgow now, and I don’t think we had a Scottish boxer in the most recent Olympic games.

“You don’t see any boxing on the free-to-air tv anymore either, it’s all about asking people to pay for it."

Tommy says his dedication to the sport as a young man has kept him fit into his 70s.

He said: “Boxing has meant that I have been fit all my days. It made me look after my health as a youngster.

“I could still run along the Largs promenade without getting out of breath if I wanted to.

“Back then people did it for the enjoyment, although I always wanted to make it a career and become a world champion.

“Unfortunately there were a lot of good boxers around, and I had a good job, so I never made it to the level I wanted.”