Tributes to a stalwart of Bristol boxing

February 03 2022
Tributes to a stalwart of Bristol boxing

Downend Boxing Club coach Craig Turner pays tribute to Jim ‘Jimmer’ Hill.

DOWNEND Boxing Club is sad to report the passing of West Country boxing stalwart Jim ‘Jimmer’ Hill.

Jim died in December after a long and brave fight with cancer. He was 74.

He started boxing with the Bristol and District club in the 1960s, joined the Royal Navy team, then competed in Bristol after his service, becoming a favourite in tournaments throughout the West and Wales.

Jim started the Bedminster Down club, had a 40-year association with Broad Plain boxing club and served as Western Counties mobile coach, building the early foundations of St George ABC and then Downend Boxing Club.

The thousands of young people Jim supported include Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees, who said: "Jim was a huge part of my life.

"I wandered into the gym as a 13-year-old – a bit lost, wanting someone to push and guide me. I found that in Jim.

"Nothing better than throwing a right hand to the pad and have Jim praise it with his 'lovely'. Then the orange and lemonade after a fight, and the drive home.

"I know he was a huge part of the lives of many others.

"He was always giving.

"I was privileged to be able to spend some time with him as he fought during those final days.

"A special man."

Jim was diagnosed seven years ago and even though extremely unwell from his treatment, could be found supporting Parkinson’s sufferers at Broad Plain (below) as part of the England Boxing and Parkinson’s UK programme, and was dedicated to his role as President of Western Counties ABA.

Broad Plain Boys club director Dennis Stichcombe said: "I have lost one of my best friends and partner in Boxing at Broad Plain for 40 years.

"He has astounded everyone with the strength, resilience and power in which he has battled this disease, and he proved beyond any reasonable doubt that he was a true boxer, and fought to the very end.

"I am proud and privileged to have had Jim as a friend by my side for such a long, long time and his family can be forever proud of him for the thousands of young men that he has helped change their lives and make something of themselves."

Former WBC world super middleweight champion Glenn Catley said Jim was a "truly great man, who guided, inspired, mentored, and delivered an education to so many".

He said: "If I can make even half the impression on other people’s lives (for the better) as Jim has done in his time here on Earth, then I will leave this world a happy man."

Jim at the Harry Crook Centre with Lacy Holloway, Sienna Das and former Commonwealth Champion Ash Lane

We were all Jimmer’s ‘Babbies’, as he called us, in a voice that couldn’t be more Bristolian, and has lifted and warmed my heart for the past 39 years.

His bravery in the later stages of his illness was astounding. In the last four weeks of his life Jim drove himself to the Harry Crook Centre, the week after he was given a lift, the week after he was in a wheelchair, but he was determined to be there if it meant crawling on his hands and knees! 

A hard man with an amazing capacity to love, who taught us that to play the game is good, to win the game is better, to love the game is best.