Hundreds say farewell to Ron Hagland: Legendary founding member of Islington Boxing Club
- Credit: Archant
Two hundred people this afternoon said goodbye to an Islington legend: Ron Hagland.
Ron, one of Islington Boxing Club’s founder members, died at the age of 86 on March 15 after suffering pneumonia.
He was there right at the beginning, when the club formed in King’s Cross in 1974. It moved to Hazellville Road, Hornsey Rise, in 1981.
It has been there ever since. Today, current and former members of the club joined family and friends there ahead of his procession to St Marylebone Crematorium in east Finchley.
As round of applause broke out as Ron’s coffin was carried into the back of his funeral car in front of the club. A woman then urged: “Three cheers for Ron!” The assembled crowd responded with gusto.
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A group of young members led the funeral car for one last trip up the Hazellville Road hill past Elthorne Park.
Ron got involved with the club to take his mind off a tragedy. His daughter Lynn, died aged five.
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Forty-four years on, his legacy is the young boxers who come through the club’s doors. Among the high profile mourners today were Cherrelle Brown and Aarron Morgan.
But, as veteran coach John “JR” Richard pointed out today: “It’s easy to pick out the elite boxers, but it’s also about the boxers who aren’t going to get to that level. Ron’s given people a fun place to train, a positive environment.”
His grandson, Reggie Hagland, is the club’s media officer. He told the Gazette: “If it wasn’t for my grandad there simply wouldn’t be a club.
“He was one of the founder members. He got involved with a number of people and a lot of them sadly passed away or moved on from the club in the early stages. But my grandad stayed there until his death.”
Ron was fundraising secretary, honorary secretary and then treasurer – holding those roles until he had to stand down a few years ago for health reasons.
As reported in a front page Gazette story in January, Islington Boxing Club guaranteed its long-term future in the borough by agreeing a 99-year lease with Islington Council.
The deal will allow it to build new purpose-built premises to replace the current red building, which, despite being much loved, is beginning to show its age.
Reggie continued: “His legacy will always live on within the club. We have massive plans and it’s a shame he’ll never get to see the transformation of the club into the next level. When we got the lease, his words were: ‘It’s about bloody time!’
“He was more than aware of what was going on and how active the club was – because he was an avid reader of the Gazette. That was his way of keeping in touch with the boxing. And if you didn’t tell him what happened he’d get the hump. It was his life.
“There are a lot of people he’s touched the hearts of who are attending today, whether they are old or current members. He’s had a massive impact on us all. He was an immensely popular man in and out of boxing and it’s a day to celebrate his legacy.
“He was a fantastic man and most important for me, a fantastic grandad.”
JR, meanwhile, recalled: “I came to this club as a volunteer for about two, three years. Ron said to me: ‘You’re always here – get your coaching badges. I was quite happy doing a couple of hours and going.
“Anyway, this fella Ron – Mr Hagland – would not leave me alone. He kept on at me to take my coaching badges and to shut him up, I said: ‘I’ll do it.’ He was a great fella.
“He was a man’s man. Big and tall but friendly. His legacy is the boxers he produced.”
Former Gazette photographer Dieter Perry, of Holloway, is on the club’s committee. Dieter’s late dad served with Ron in the forces just outside London after the war.
“My dad was very fond of Ron. I feel it’s a part of my life that has come to a close as well.
“He came across as a very friendly and caring person. If you had a problem, he’d help you out in any way he could, and he was very good to the boxers that came into the club – getting their lives in check and order. Giving them focus and something to aim for.”
After the cremation, a celebration of Ron’s life will be held at Forty Hall Banqueting Suite in Enfield.