A MEMBER of a Wearside boxing dynasty has died after a battle with cancer.
Ronnie O’Brien, from Plains Farm, died last month aged 75.
His nephew Keith paid tribute to the dad-of-three, who was an National Association Boys Club champion in his youth. He also boxed in the Army, where he served in the Durham Light Infantry.
“He was just a lovely, lovely man,” said Keith, 54, of East Herrington.
“He was a big and strong gentleman, but very quiet.”
Ronnie, whose wife Nora died more than 20 years ago, was the son of the famous Jack “One Round” O’Brien, who fought in both World Wars and was in the Black Watch regiment.
Jack fought for titles in London and was good friends with another popular Sunderland fighter Jack Casey.
The O’Brien family are also known for the demolition company they have operated in the city for many years. It is now run by Ronnie’s brother Gordon.
Keith is managing director of WoodCraft for Landscapes garden centre in Wheatley Hill.
“Most of the men in the family have boxed and been in the Army,” added Keith.
“Ronnie always provided for his family. He and my grandad Jack were all nice lads, not cocky.
“They never bragged about what they had done in the war. They just felt they were doing what they had to do for their country.”
Keith himself also could have forged a career in boxing after being North East champion as a youngster, as well as representing England against Wales.
“I was supposed to turn pro,” he added “but in the end it didn’t happen.”
He leaves behind daughters Wendy, Tina and Susan, as well as son Michael.
Keith would like those with memories, newspaper articles or pictures of his family’s boxing history to get in touch on 01429 823888.