Local boxing world pays tribute to stalwart boxing coach and trainer Andy Sumner who has died

The Preston and Blackpool boxing fraternity are mourning the death of renowned coach Andy Sumner at the age of 78.

Monday, 16th November 2020, 1:08 pm
Updated Monday, 16th November 2020, 1:34 pm
Andy Sumner (right) puts a young boxer through his paces at Preston and Fulwood Boxing Club

Sumner died in Royal Lancaster Infirmary after contracting Covid-19.

In a remarkable coaching career, he set boxers on the road to outstanding achievements.

Former British light-middleweight champion Brian Rose came under his wing as a boy and under his tutelage progressed to England amateur honours.

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That laid the groundwork for a stellar career as a professional as Rose went on to challenge for a version of the world title in New York.

He coached many youngsters over the years in several gyms including Bolton lads’ club, Preston and Fulwood Boxing Club and Brian Rose’s Blackpool gym,

An emotional Rose led the tributes to a man he called his “second father”.

He said: “I’m finding it hard to come to terms with. As a nine-year-old he walked into my gym and said I was a natural.

“He didn’t just make me a boxer, he gave me life skills. He took hold of me as a person, gave me manners and taught me how to treat people.

“It’s all because of Andy that I’m the person I am today.

“He would ring my school all the time and he wouldn’t let me into the gym if he found out I’d been naughty. That was my punishment.

“He’d rather I had the right manners and attitude than be a special fighter and he meant so much to me.

“He told me I had the talent to become a top boxer and we went everywhere together for fights in this country and on the continent.

“Scott Cardle (Lytham’s former British champion) put a message out that we were inseparable and that’s true.

“He was a second dad to me. I became part of his family. Whenever it was too late to bring me home after a fight I would stay at his house with his family.”

Jack Arnfield, now boxing out of Kirkham, also learned the ropes from Sumner and progressed to the pro ranks with notable success.

Rose added: “Jack was as close to Andy as I am and was really upset when we spoke over the weekend. Andy was a beautiful, amazing man.

“I met Andy when I was nine, had my first fight at 11 and I was with him until I turned pro at 20. I’ve always been a loyal fighter and have only had two trainers in my whole career.

“He was still coaching at my gym this year and he did so much for the community. He ran a Sunday League football team too.”

Sumner, who lived in Longton, South Ribble, helped countless other youngsters with his expertise and know-how.

Even those young fighters with limited ability received the same kind of care and attention to detail as the champion-class boxers.

Sumner would willingly ferry boxers to all parts of the country, usually at his own expense.

He was no mean exponent in the four-cornered ring himself. While studying for his degree at Manchester, he became Northern Universities boxing champion at lightweight.

Prior to his retirement from teaching, he was head of languages at Penwortham Girls, High School.

During his younger days he was a prominent member of PGSOB's football and cricket teams.

He was also a keen Preston North End supporter and cites Sir Tom Finney as one of his sporting idols.

Sumner leaves a widow Marilyn, a son Nick, daughter Kirsty and twin grandsons Robbie and Jamie.

Sumner had been treated at Royal Preston Hospital and latterly at Lancaster. Sadly, the family were unable to visit Andy during his final days but gained some comfort from speaking to him by telephone.

Marilyn Sumner said: “I cannot speak highly enough of all the hospital staff who treated my husband.”

A funeral service will take place at Charnock Richard crematorium, with details yet to be announced.