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  • Irish Independent/PA

Former British boxing champion Des Rea dies aged 72

Former British light welterweight champion Des Rea has died at the age of 72, his family has announced. Rea, born in Belfast but raised in Liverpool, became the first man to win the Lonsdale Belt in his weight category when he beat Vic Andreetti in 1968 and also fought for the European title.

The closest he got to a world title was when he was beaten in an eliminator in the United States by Jose Napoles of Cuba in 1968.

He shed an interesting light on his career years later when he revealed notorious East End gangsters Ronnie and Reggie Kray may have been involved in the management of some of his fights.

Rea, who turned professional at the age of 20 in 1964, met the Krays briefly in 1967 and they told him title opportunities would come.

"I didn't know who they were but they were all dressed up and I thought they had to be gentlemen," Rea told the Lancashire Telegraph in an interview in 2000.

"They predicted they would get me a British title fight, a European title fight and a world title eliminator."

Read the full story at the Irish Independent

Note: Des Rea is Andre Walker's uncle and godfather.

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