Boxing legend Benny Lynch, Scotlands first-ever World champion boxer, is the focus of a new Glasgow Museums
travelling exhibition. It will showcase the World and European Championship trophies he won in 1937, displayed together for the first time since he died in 1946. Former World champion boxer Jim Watt MBE unveiled the new display at Gorbals Library, just streets away from where Benny Lynch was born.
The exhibition is the culmination of a partnership between the Open Museum and the campaign group Remembering Benny Lynch. They hope to have a statue of the man, many consider to be the greatest fighter Scotland has ever produced, erected in his home city.
Jim Watt MBE said: "Benny Lynch is Scotland's greatest ever sporting legend. He was our first World boxing champion and he inspired those of us who followed that it was possible to do the same.
It is important that future generations are aware of his legacy and I am honoured to be asked to launch this exhibition and to help in any way I can to raise funds to have a statue erected in his memory."
Duncan Dornan, Head of Glasgow Museums, added: I congratulate everyone on their achievement and hope they are rightly proud of the exhibition thats been created. The legend of Benny Lynch continues to intrigue all these years later and I am sure it will be a popular display.
Glasgow has one of the finest museum collections in Europe, a collection that belongs to the people of Glasgow. So I am encouraged by the work the Open Museum has been doing with Remembering Benny Lynch to use the citys collection to engage people in sharing their own stories.
At Glasgow Life we strive to inspire our citizens to lead richer lives through culture. This project is a fantastic illustration of how we can work with others to mark our history and allow people to flourish. I wish this group the very best with their campaign.
Bryan Turnbull, a member of the group Remembering Benny Lynch, said: This is a really special moment for us, with the campaign group and the Open Museum coming together to create this fabulous display. Our hope is that it raises awareness about the campaign to get Benny Lynch a statue in his home town and pays tribute to his legacy as a legendary world champion boxer."
Open Museum outreach assistant Kevin Kerrigan saw the Benny Lynch campaign on social media. As his grandfather had sparred with the legend he was intrigued. He looked on Glasgow Museums database and discovered the city had Benny Lynch world championship trophy in its collection. He was pleased to discover the trophy that was presented to Benny in 1937 and got in touch with the group. Together Kevin and the group curated the exhibition, deciding what it would feature, the stories it would tell and where and when it would be located.
Open Museum outreach assistant Kevin Kerrigan added: I am delighted to have assisted the group in creating a travelling exhibition that will open minutes from where Benny was born in time for his birthday in early April. I hope it will help the group realise their ultimate ambition of having a statue of the world champion erected in his home city.
The travelling exhibition features Benny Lynchs World Championship trophy, from his 1937 victory over highly rated American fighter Small Montana in a 15-round points win at Wembley. However, for the first-time in over 70 years it will sit alongside his European Championship trophy from the same year, courtesy of a loan from Glasgow businessman Willie Haughey, who purchased it at a charity auction. Benny Lynchs boxing gloves sit alongside magazine and newspaper articles detailing his career and striking images of the world champion in action, which complete the display.
Like many of the Open Museum travelling exhibitions it was designed through direct engagement with community groups based in the city, who, through the Open Museum, are encouraged to tell their own stories and to mark their own histories. It is one of a range of small free-standing exhibitions that can be displayed in community venues such as libraries, shopping centres and community centres. On average they measure around 1.5m x 1 m.
The Open Museum is Glasgow Museums outreach service. It operates out of Glasgow Museums Resource Centre and takes Glasgow's museum collections beyond the museum walls and out into the community. There are object handling kits, displays and exhibitions available for loan.