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Former lightweight champion Ken Buchanan passes away at 77

Ken Buchanan, Scotland's first undisputed champion, shows off his Ring Magazine belt.
Fighters Network

Ken Buchanan passed away in his native Scotland at the age of 77, it was announced on Saturday, April 1.

A Facebook post from the Ken Buchanan Foundation read: “It’s with great sadness that we have to inform you that Ken Buchanan passed away peacefully in his sleep this morning.

“Further announcements will come and please give the family some time to process this sad news. RIP Ken, always a gentleman and one of the best champions we will ever see.”

Illustration of Ken Buchanan on the December 1971 cover. Photo: The Ring Magazine/Getty Images

One of the best boxers to hail from Great Britain and arguably the greatest from Scotland, Buchanan won the Ring Magazine and WBA lightweight titles with a 15-round unanimous decision over Panamanian legend Ismael Laguna on September 26, 1970, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Buchanan, who had held the British 135-pound title prior to defeating Laguna, defended the world championship twice — with 15-round decisions over top contender Ruben Navarro, which gave him the WBC belt, and Laguna in a rematch — before losing it (in controversial fashion) to another great fighter from Panama, Roberto Duran, via 13th-round stoppage on June 26, 1972, in New York City (where the Scotsman was quite popular).

Buchanan stopped Puerto Rican great Carlos Ortiz in his next bout and remained a top lightweight contender for much of the decade, regaining the British title from future champ Jim Watt in 1973 and winning the European title the following year before dropping a 15-round decision to Suzuki “Guts” Ishimatsu in a bid for the WBC belt in Tokyo in 1975.

Buchanan, who finished his career with a 61-8 (27 KOs) record, was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2000. A brilliant technical boxer with incredible heart and conditioning, Buchanan was well received wherever he fought, which included England, Spain, Puerto Rico, the U.S., South Africa, Canada, Italy, Denmark, France, Zimbabwe, Japan, and, of course, his native Scotland.

“Ken Buchanan was a national hero in Scotland and brought fans around the world so many memorable moments during his championship career,” said International Boxing Hall of Fame Executive Director Edward Brophy. “The Hall of Fame offers our condolences to the Buchanan family and joins the boxing world in mourning his passing.”


Read Best I Faced: Ken Buchanan


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