Jimmy’s death bed pledge to Finsbury Park boxing club
PUBLISHED: 07:22 12 April 2013
A former boxing coach with terminal cancer made a death bed pledge to support a club that helps young homeless people stay off the streets.
Jimmy Freeman, who was 79 when he died in January, was shown videos of Caris Boxing Club, in Finsbury Park, by his wife to soothe him in as he lay dying.
Mr Freeman had never visited the Tollington Park Road club, but was so touched by the work they do with vulnerable youngsters he asked for all the money that would have gone on flowers at his funeral to be donated to Caris.
In the end £1,000 was raised – cash which is vital to Caris because it receives no Government funding and relies entirely on donations to survive.
Caris have now named a trophy in honour of Mr Freeman, which they will present each year to the most improved boxer at the club.
Sam Hadfield, founder of Caris, said: “His wife used to show him videos of the lads while he was at home unwell. He loved what we were all about and got everyone to donate money to us.
“I went to his funeral and the family were just terrific, they’ve become part of the club now.
“This money had helped us right out – we have paid the rent for a year up front so we have no worries about where we will train now.
“For him to think of other people when he is dying, well, we’re so grateful to him.”
Mr Freeman’s daughter Loraine said: “When my dad saw what Sam was doing he said: ‘It’s great, getting those young people off the streets. More people should be doing that’. He’d become ill before Christmas and we knew it was serious so we had been discussing the funeral. He didn’t want flowers so we came up with the idea of donations instead.
“I’ve been up to Caris and it’s lovely, everyone was so friendly. We’re going to keep in touch – it’s like were all part of one big family now.”
The inaugural Jimmy Freeman shield was given to Larry Boddy, 25, by British Champion boxer David Hamilton on March 24.
Mr Hadfield said: “When Larry came here he had had a rough time and had no confidence at all. But this year he has worked really hard and his self-esteem as grown so much.”
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Islington Gazette. Click the link in the orange box below for details.