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Ken Buchanan-Scotland's finest?

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  • Ken Buchanan-Scotland's finest?

    If you ask a boxing fan from Scotland who their greatest boxer of all time is, at least half of them will reply: Ken Buchanan. The other half are likely to say Benny Lynch. But, Buchanan was the last one people remember and is still held in great regard in Scotland and all of Britain pretty much. He was a fine technical boxer who was also tough and game and hit hard enough to stop most fighters. He was also known for his left jab, which Cyber Boxing Zone describes as beautiful. He has defeated many of the best lightweights of his time, such as Carlos Ortiz, Ismael Laguna, Carlos Hernandez, Jim Watt, Antonio Puddu, Ruben Navarro and Giancarlo Usai, to name a few. He wasn't always lucky with the judges, one might say, and has lost a few disputed decisions. Also, his most famous loss to Roberto Duran was very controversial.

    Ken Buchanan was born in Edinburgh, Scottish capital, on 28 June 1945, to parents Tommy and Cathie. It was his aunts Joan and Agnes that were responsible for steering Ken in the direction of boxing, when they in 1952 bought him a pair of boxing gloves as a Christmas present. After his father took him to see the film "The Joe Louis Story", Ken was hooked forever and asked to join a boxing club, which he did, at 8 years of age. It was Sparta, one of the best clubs in Scotland. At 17, young Ken won his first senior title at the East District bantam championship. He became the ABA featherweight champion in 1965. Later that year, he hooked up with manager Eddie Thomas and became a pro, also trained by Thomas at first. Later on, he was trained by Gil Clancy, a hall of famer. He made his pro debut on 20 September '66, winning by TKO2 against Brian Rocky Tonks at the Piccadilly. On 23 January '67, he won the vacant BBofC Scottish Area lightweight title on points against John McMillan. He became the full British champion when he knocked out Maurice Cullen in 11 rounds 19 February '68 at Hilton Hotel in Mayfair. Buchanan put Cullen down four times before knocking him out. 2 January '69 he beat Frankie Narvaez, his first world-class opponent, impressively on points in 10 rounds. After running his record to 33-0, he fought Miguel Velasquez of Spain for the vacant Euro title 29 January '70 in Madrid. Buchanan was down for the first time in the ninth, but the fight was dead close until the end. However, the knockdown and the fact that he was fighting away went against him and he lost by decision in the end, after his first 15-rounder. He made a comeback by defending his British title for the first time and knocking Brian Hudson out in 5. He was then chosen as the opponent of the newly-crowned world champion Ismael Laguna of Panama. Laguna was stripped of the WBC title, so only the WBA one was on the line. Date was 26 September 1970 and the stage Hiram Bitom Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Buchanan made history in becoming the first Scottish lightweight world champion when he came on strong in the late rounds to snatch a split decision. He shook Laguna in the 12th with a series of shots to the head and dominated from there on.

    It was a great achievement indeed and he had become the first British lightweight champion since Freddie Welsh way back in 1917, but he had defied the British Boxing Board of Control, who only recognized WBC at the time. He got to fight for the WBC title and defend the WBA title at once, in his next title fight against Ruben Navarro. Navarro was a late replacement for Mando Ramos, who withdrew two days before the fight. It was 12 February '71 when Buchanan fought Navarro at Sports Arena in Los Angeles and beat him by UD15. Navarro had opened aggressively and Buchanan went down in the first round, but the referee didn't recognize it as a valid knockdown. Navarro began to tire in the second half and Buchanan took over, like he did against Laguna. "I was slow and cold at the beginning. I turned my back on his rushes because I wasn't used to this. In England they wouldn't have allowed it. But I got warmed up and I think people appreciated good boxing:" In June that year, Buchanan forfeited the WBC title after a contractual dispute. Before that, he stopped the former world champion Carlos Hernandez of Venezuela by TKO8, in May. He once again defended his WBA title in a rematch with Laguna, 13 September that year at MSG. Buchanan bled from cuts below his eyes for a good part of the fight, but he kept his composure and took control of the fight in round 4. He almost put Laguna through the ropes in the 14th and had him in serious trouble, but the fight ended on points, this time Buchanan winning by UD. Next year, he first had a fight at 143 pounds against Canadian Al Ford and won on points. He then stopped Andries Steyn of South Africa in 3 rounds in a non-title fight at lightweight after putting him down twice in round 3 before Steyn's corner threw in the towel. It was 26 June when he fought what would remain his most famous fight and opponent: Roberto Duran. Once again, the fight was at MSG. A crowd of 18,821 came to see the two warriors fight. Duran had just turned 21 10 days before and Buchanan was a 2-1 favorite before the fight. Duran sent Buchanan down for a flash knockdown with a right hand in the first round. Duran fought dirty throughout the fight and used low blows and head butts, which were only warned by the referee once, in round 13. In that round, with Duran ahead on the scorecards, the two fighters fought at the bell, when Duran hit Buchanan below the belt. Buchanan collapsed to the canvas in pain and after he was helped up, the referee took a look at him and then stopped the fight. The official result was a TKO13 win for Duran! "Duran ussed every part of his anatomy, everything but his knee, and he would be accused of that breach of etiquette too", said Buchanan afterwards. "I had no protection from the referee tonight."

    Having lost his world title under the worst circumstances possible, there would be no offer for a rematch from Duran and his manager. 3 months later, Buchanan pounded an aging Carlos Ortiz into submission before Ortiz retired on his stool following the 6th round. In January '73, he beat his national rival Jim Watt by a close 2-point decision to win back the BBBofC title in Glasgow. On 1 May '74, he finally won the Euro title which had eluded him before, when he stopped the 52-2 Italian Antonio Puddu by TKO6, in Cagliari, Italy. It was a good brawl which Buchanan ended with a barrage against the ropes. After defending the title by TKO14 against Leonard Tavarez in Paris, he went to Japan to fight their own WBC champion Guts Ishimatsu, 27 February '75. Despite being favored to win, Buchanan was unable to get the best of Ishimatsu, who fought a clever fight and avoided his best punches. Buchanan had previously injured his right eye and it got swelled shut in round 6, which made it harder for him to land consistently and in the end he lost by UD15. Only the Japanese judge had it wide for Ishimatsu though. He then made his second defense of the Euro belt against Giancarlo Usai, another Italian, and stopped Usai by TKO12, once again in Cagliari, at the football stadium, 25 July. Buchanan retired suddenly after that, but came back in 1979. After winning two easy fights on points, he fought the Northern Irish Charlie Nash for the European title, curiously in Brondby, Denmark. He lost by close scores on 6 December but kept on fighting. He then knocked out Najib Daho in 7 before scoring his last victory on points against Des Gwilliam, 20 October 1980. He started campaigning as a light welterweight, but lost the eliminator for the BBBofC lww title to Steve Early on points and retired after losing 3 more fights in 1982. His record is 61 wins, 27 by ko and 8 losses, only one by ko, and a dubious one at that.

    Ken Buchanan was one of the best British boxers in that country's rich boxing history and, along with Benny Lynch at least, the best Scottish boxer ever. He received his MBE (Member of British Empire order) and founded the Ken Buchanan MBE Foundation after that, which is a charitable fundraising organization. He has carried himself with dignity worthy of a former world champion and Scotland's finest, but has largely stayed out of limelight. He still lives in Edinburgh today. In 2000, he was inducted into the IBHOF.


  • #2
    --- How do you think Hairy'sSon Scott would do against Buchanon?

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    • #3
      Originally posted by LondonRingRules View Post
      --- How do you think Hairy'sSon Scott would do against Buchanon?
      Not sure. Pretty interesting fight-and hard. Could go either way.

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      • #4
        I believe Bud met him recently at an event and (surprisingly) Ken wouldn't even sign an autograph without a small donation of money.

        Great boxer though, and one of the first fight careers I collected. (Sadly not 100% complete).

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        • #5
          Originally posted by selij View Post
          I believe Bud met him recently at an event and (surprisingly) Ken wouldn't even sign an autograph without a small donation of money.

          Great boxer though, and one of the first fight careers I collected. (Sadly not 100% complete).
          I have no problem with that mate, my friend told me that Mike McCallum asked 300 dollars for an autograph from him. THAT I don't like!

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          • #6
            Addendum:

            I remember now, the story goes Bud asked him to sign a pair of gloves for a charity auction and he still wanted a donation.

            A little out of order (imho) but perhaps he's fallen on hard times (?)

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            • #7
              Originally posted by selij View Post
              Addendum:

              I remember now, the story goes Bud asked him to sign a pair of gloves for a charity auction and he still wanted a donation.

              A little out of order (imho) but perhaps he's fallen on hard times (?)
              I don't think it's for him. As I wrote, he's got his charity foundation and is probably just trying to get as much in as possible.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by selij View Post
                Addendum:

                I remember now, the story goes Bud asked him to sign a pair of gloves for a charity auction and he still wanted a donation.

                A little out of order (imho) but perhaps he's fallen on hard times (?)
                Ken has suffered a number of health and financial problems and has had a well documented struggle with alcohol.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Robbo View Post

                  Ken has suffered a number of health and financial problems and has had a well documented struggle with alcohol.
                  Ah yes, alcohol...I'd make a jest out of it and say "but he's Scottish", but I won't. I look at that problem seriously.

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