Anyone from Sheffield, the town I was born in and where my family has been involved in melting metal for over two hundred years, will probably recognise the name Brendan Ingle. He’s the Sheffield Legend in the title of the post. His legendary status comes from the boxing gym he founded in the east end of the city, the world champion boxers that were trained there and Brendan’s single minded attitude towards helping young people find a purpose in life through boxing. Sadly, Brendan passed away earlier this year and we lost one of the great characters of this city. There’s an obituary, one of many, here which gives you a flavour of the man.
I was lucky enough to meet him a while ago when I was running a non-ferrous foundry in Sheffield before moving to Durham Foundry. One day a fairly short guy, flanked by two much larger lads, walked in off the street and started looking around. That’s not something you really want the public doing and I asked who they were and what they wanted. It was Brendan with two of his young boxers. He was after some brass medals that he could put onto a belt for a junior contest he was organising. These were duly made and he even managed to get me, a Yorkshireman, to make them for nothing. I can remember the conversations we had as if it was yesterday and this gives you some idea as to how passionate Brendan was about what he did, his gym and the town he’d called home. These were nearly thirty years ago.
A few weeks ago, we were contacted by his daughter, Bridget, who wanted to know if we, a local foundry, would be interested in casting a series of floor plates that would form part of a lasting tribute to him. It took about five seconds for me to go ‘Oh yes’.
This is still very much at the planning stage but I have no doubt, given the interest from local people and larger organisations, that this will happen. It’s going to be a sculpture of Brendan stood on a cast iron boxing ring, the various floor plates that will make up the ring having Brendan’s sayings cast onto them in raised letters. Around the edge, similar plates will have the names of people, families, companies and anyone else who wants to sponsor this project and be part of this permanent memorial to the man.
There was a small ceremony to mark the launch of the project a few weeks ago. There’s a link here to a short video of Johnny Nelson, one of Brendan’s proteges, speaking after the event along with, further down the page, an artists impression of what the memorial might look like.
Finally, projects like this don’t come along very often. Sure, we’ve done sculptural work before but they’ve usually been for some unrelated public space or for a corporate client. They’re always interesting but never have the ties to the local community that this one does.
I can’t wait to get started.
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