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Thousands turn out to mourn the passing of the gentle giant

Stars from the boxing world joined close friends and family members at celebrated boxer Gary Mason's funeral

Posted Feb 13, 2011 by Weekend Round-Up

Gary Mason

On Friday, former world heavyweight boxing champion Lennox Lewis and over 1,000 other mourners attended the funeral of celebrated boxer Gary Mason.

Mason fought 38 times at professional level between 1984 and 1994, winning 34 bouts by knockout and losing only 1 fight in his entire career – and that was to Lennox Lewis at Wembley arena in 1991.

Two decades ago next month; Mason, the then 28 year old was favourite to beat Lewis (at the time, an up and coming fighter). Gary Mason was undefeated in 35 fights but Lewis was the on equally good form beating his previous 14 opponents. As it was, that night proved to be the tipping point in Mason’s career; Lennox Lewis defeated Mason and left him with damage to his right eye which effectively finished his career in boxing.

Mason enjoyed an otherwise illustrious boxing career defeating a number of well-known fighters including Everett Martin, Tyrell Biggs, James Tillis and Jess Harding. Mason was known for his punching power, heart and sheer strength. Mason was crowned British heavyweight champion in 1989.

Gary Mason was known in the boxing world as the gentle giant; he had a positive outlook and would always have a smile on his face and will be remembered for all his charity work. Mason died on 6th January in South London after a collision with a van whilst he was out cycling.

When he heard of Gary’s death, Frank Maloney commented "The boxing world had a great respect for Gary. Even when times were hard, Gary would have a smile on his face; he's going to be very sorely missed by a great number of people.” Maloney added "Gary was big on chariy... he would always turn up to events because that is the kind of guy he was.

Mason enjoyed a fulfilling and essentially quite colourful life dabbling in a few ventures besides boxing including a stint at rugby club London Broncos as well as owning his own jeweller’s shop which he named ‘Punch ‘n’ Jewellery’ which shows the man had a sense of humour even if his retail business skills weren’t up to scratch.

As with many athletes, when their time comes to bow out gracefully, other opportunities came his way including a time at Sky Sports as a boxing analyst before he was famously ejected from his role after he swore on live TV.

Sadly for Mason, fame outlived his fortune and he once remarked that people would recognise him and ask for autographs when he went down to the job centre. The fact was that boxing didn’t pay quite as well then as it does now, Lennox Lewis finished Mason in his prime and try as he might in later years, Mason’s bank balance never quite matched that of Lewis’. To some this would have bred a resentment that he’d got into the sport at the wrong time and was forced out too early but the Jamaican born giant would shrug it off with his usual infectious optimism for life.

The passing of someone is always a devastating event but when someone of Mason’s personality and talent passes it is a very sad day in boxing. This was reflected in the sheer number of mourners that turned out to pay their respect to Gary.

Despite all the goading and rivalry, it is times like these that make you realise that many boxers see eachother as family, it makes you realise how precious life is even if McCloskey did think that being paid less than Khan was the end of the world.

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