Soap star to hit the stage as tragic fighter

Sunday Mail (UK) - - Front Page - David Hay­man

be di­rected by David Hay­man Jr. The play looks at Benny’s child­hood in the slums lead­ing up his box­ing suc­cess – win­ning the Bri­tish, Euro­pean and World f ly­weight ti­tles against Jackie Brown in Manch­ester on Septem­ber 9, 1935 – and the star­dom which fol­lowed as well as his tragic demise. He held his ti­tles until 1938 but, hav­ing turned to drink, his life spi­ralled out of con­trol and he lost his world ti­tle on the scales when couldn’t make fight­ing-weight. He had to sell his house and pawn his tro­phies be­fore his death. Stephen said: “It does set you back a wee bit when you look at how mas­sive he was at the time and how quickly it all fell apart.

“I think the peo­ple he had around him were a fac­tor but al­co­hol had a lot to do with it.

“Ob­vi­ously, in this day and age, it is high­lighted more and there is much more help for peo­ple with al­co­hol is­sues and de­pres­sion.

“But, in those days, com­ing from the Gor­bals, the west coast of Scot­land, you are not go­ing to talk about those things.”

Stephen, who is cur­rently star­ring in panto Cin­derella at the Glas­gow Pavil­ion, has al­ready been in train­ing for the role. He added: “I have been hit t ing the g ym, go­ing to box­ing classes, just do­ing my best to keep in shape.

“You can see quite a few of his fights on YouTube and the speed with which he could throw punches was in­sane.

“He was so fast, a south­paw, and he didn’t have his guard up a lot – he just went for it.

“I’m very busy with River City and then panto so I don’t do much in be­tween but this was some­thing I just couldn’t say no to.”

VET­ERAN

TEAM Stephen’s River City co-star Holly Jack is also in play

CHAMP Benny Lynch

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