LEADING figures from the world of boxing have paid emotional tributes to one of the sport’s “true characters”.
Gus Robinson, pictured, a Hartlepool businessman and promoter who was awarded the MBE in 1998, won many friends over the years and a number of high-profile figures have been leading the tributes.
He died yesterday at his home, leaving wife Judith, four grown-up children Daniel, Lucy, Anna and Adele, and grandchildren. He was born in Annfield Plain, in 1949, but has spent almost all his life in east Durham and Hartlepool.
Police have not confirmed the circumstances surrounding the death, but said they were not treating it as suspicious.
Gus’s friends and colleagues have reacted with shock and sadness to the news.
His love affair with boxing began when he saw a picture of Sugar Ray Robinson in a book he was given as a child.
The popular businessman’s uncle, Edward Robinson, was a heavyweight fighter from Annfield Plain and Gus himself fought as an amateur, enjoying some modest success.
He went on to establish his own business, Gus Robinson Developments, and it was in the 1980s that he made his name in boxing, becoming a manager and promoter.
His death comes just weeks before one of his prized fighters, Nigel Wright, competes for the British light-welterweight title.
Frank Maloney, one of the sport’s leading promoters, was working alongside Gus, on the fight which is due to take place in December.
He said he was “shocked and stunned” when told about Gus, who was working as his North East agent.
Maloney said: “I have known Gus for many years and he is one of the nicest people that I have ever worked with.
“My thoughts and prayers go out to his family. He was not just a colleague but a dear friend.”
Robinson provided advice and support to Phil Jeffries when he began promoting boxing in Sunderland, and also sponsored his son Tony as he was preparing for the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.
Jeffries said: “I’m in total shock. My heart goes out to his family.
“He offered me a lot of advice when I first started promoting, and he used to phone Tony to check how he was doing.
“It’s a very sad day.”
Gus, a strong supporter of the amateur game, provided the platform for Newcastle’s John Davison to win the WBC International featherweight title in Hartlepool in March 1990 after beating the Thai, Srikoon Narachawat.
Three more WBC International title fights for Davison against Oriental opposition cemented Robinson’s status as a top-line promoter.
That reputation was enhanced even further when in 1996 he worked in association with two of the world’s biggest promoters, Frank Warren and Don King in shows at the Newcastle Arena.
The first being WBC World super-middleweight confrontation between Nigel Benn and Sugar Boy Malinga, and then later in the year the WBO super-featherweight clash between Prince Naseem Hamed and Daniel Alicia.
Frank Warren said: “I was very sad to hear of the passing of Gus Robinson.
“I enjoyed working with Gus on shows and it’s a very sad loss.”
Barry Hearn, another leading boxing promoter, said: “I have known Gus for close on 30 years and he was a real character, a real showman and someone who was passionate about boxing.
“Gus was always a big supporter of Hartlepool and the North East as a whole.”