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Walter Roderick McKay McGowan

Sport: Boxing

Walter McGowan

Walter Mcgowan was one of Scotland's small band of boxing world champions, winning the World Flyweight title in June 1966, at the Empire Pool in Wembley, when he defeated Salvatore Burruni of Italy.

The fight went the entire fifteen rounds and, despite sustaining a badly gashed eye in the seventh round, McGowan was crowned champion on a points decision.Cuts were to prove a major problem in his career and many experts believed that without this problem, McGowan could have been even more successful, not least because he lost two more world title fights on cuts stoppages.

Walter McGowan was born in Burnbank, Hamilton but lived in Motherwell for most of his life. He had originally dreamt of becoming a jockey until boxing captured his ambitions. As a teenager, McGowan rose quickly through the age grades as an amateur and he amassed  a quite phenomenal record,  winning all but two of his 124 amateur bouts. 

Standing just over 5ft 2ins and usually weighing 8st or less, his speed and skills, which included lightning fast footwork, were coupled with a punching power that belied his stature. In April 1961, at the age of 18, McGowan won the highly prestigious ABA flyweight championship, beating Ray Stacey in the final.

McGowan Snr, who himself had boxed under the name Joe Gans, trained his son hard. Cold baths and five-mile runs were a daily occurrence, and McGowan benefitted greatly, acquiring great stamina. In his first professional fight in August 1961, McGowan stopped George McDade in the third round of their flyweight contest at the Kelvin Hall, Glasgow.

He would go on to amass a record of 32 wins, seven losses and a draw. His last fight was in November 1969 against Domenico Antonio Chiloiro of Italy, which McGowan won on points.

He then retired from boxing at the age of just 27. McGowan became the first Scottish world boxing champion to be so honoured when he was awarded an MBE in the Queen's Birthday honours list in 1967. He was inducted into the Scottish Sports Hall of Fame in 2002, alongside the likes of Scottish boxing great Ken Buchanan.

Walter McGowan died at  Monklands Hospital at Airdrie on  15 February 2016.