Sport star passes away aged 82:
RICKY Hatton has led tributes to his former boxing coach Paul Dunne, calling him ‘a father figure through my teenage years’.
Mr Dunne, who was chief coach of Sale West Amateur Boxing Club and hugely respected within the sport, passed away aged 82 after a short illness.
The Hitman, who went on to win a string of world titles after being coached by Dunne, said: “The passing of Mr Dunne was as upsetting as it gets for me.
“He was more than my amateur boxing coach, he was like a father figure as when I was growing up”.
“He didn’t only set me on the right path in boxing, he set me on the right path in life.
“I feel I speak for everyone who boxed for Sale West A.B.C or anyone from the Sale Racecourse Estate Youth Club who was fortunate to spend any length of time in his company.
“His family were my family to me and my love goes out to them now more than ever.”
His proud family said his work with youngsters was about far more than just training and stepping into the ring.
Mr Dunne’s daughter Amanda Thomason said: “He was inspirational in coaching the next generation of boxers, but my dad’s influence also changed their lives.
“We have got many wonderful memories. He was my best mate and my dad.
“He ate, slept and breathed boxing and the sport has lost someone very special.
“He will be sadly missed and we want to thank eve- ryone for their messages and their support.”
Mr Dunne, from Sale, leaves his wife of 57 years Kath, four children and seven grandchildren.
Funeral details are due to be announced at a later date but all donations will go to the Manchester ExBoxers Association.
He fought more than 30 bouts as a bantamweight over 10 years, with his first fight as a pro in 1952.
One of the highlights of his professional career was a win by knock-out over highly-rated US title contender Carlos Chavez in New Orleans in 1954.
Mr Dunne’s family moved to Manchester from Ireland when he was 14. By then, he had already won an Irish title as a schoolboy. He trained at his nearest boxing club, the Holy Name Boxing Club on Oxford Road, Chorlton, before turning pro.
Writing on Twitter, British Super Middleweight champion Paul Smith Jnr said: “Sad to hear the news that Paul Dunne has died. Great fella, Dunny. Did a lot for local kids and boxing.”
Manchester-based boxing manager and coach Joe Gallagher paid tribute to a ‘huge character’ in amateur boxing and Mat- thew Hatton, Ricky’s brother, added on Twitter: “RIP Paul Dunne, my old amateur coach. Boxing through and through. A real character and a great man.”