WEARSIDE boxer Tony Jeffries today spoke of his shock at the death of the Echo’s Ian Laws – describing his friend as an “absolute diamond”.
The Echo’s digital editor and former sports writer died suddenly, aged 41.
The dad-of-three was also a huge boxing fan and charted Jaffa’s rise from a fledgling fighter to bronze medal winner at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China.
Speaking from Los Angeles, where he is recovering from hand surgery, Tony, from Silksworth, said he was left stunned by the passing of his “good friend Lawsy”.
“I’ve been back in Los Angeles for about three weeks and it had all been going so well until I heard the terrible news,” he said.
“I read an email from my dad telling me the news about Ian passing away. I really struggled to believe it, hoping that it wasn’t true.
“Then I saw I had quite a few Twitter messages about it. It really broke my heart to find out it was true.”
Ian had been out with friends playing football before returning home where he died shortly afterwards last Thursday. He leaves behind wife Kelly and children Lauren, James and Millie.
Tony, 26, who now fights as a professional, said: “I’ve known Ian since about 2000 when I started winning a few national titles.
“He started to write about me in the paper – and has done ever since. He even flew to Melbourne, the other side of the world, to write about me.
“But I know he mainly wanted to support me in the 2005 Commonwealth Games.
“Over the years, I grew very close to ‘Lawsy’ and I classed him as a good friend.
“The last time I saw him was on my wedding day in November, but I spoke to him every other week, even on Christmas Day, just about life in general, football and other things.
“He was a great fella and an amazing father. I know his kids meant the world to him. When I think of him, he is always smiling and having a joke.
“What an absolute diamond.
“It’s hard to think I’m never going to see him again. I’m going to really miss him.
“He was a top journo.”
Ian’s funeral will take place at Holy Trinity Church, in Marigold Avenue, Gateshead, on Monday at 1.30pm. It will be followed by a wake at a function room at the Stadium of Light at 4pm.