Crowds line streets for funeral of bare-knuckle boxer and ‘King of Sheffield’

Hundreds of mourners turned out to say a final farewell to a bare-knuckle boxer dubbed the "King of Sheffield".

Traveller Willy Collins, dad-of-nine and the patriarch of the Collins clan, died in July after collapsing on holiday with his family in Majorca.

There was a huge send-off for the local legend at Shiregreen Cemetery on Saturday as crowds gathered around Collin's gold-plated casket as it was held aloft.

He arrived in style with people lining the streets as his coffin made its final journey in a carriage pulled by 12 white horses as his funeral cortege wound through north Sheffield.

His heartbroken wife Kathleen said no expense had been spared to celebrate her husband's life with pictures showing hundreds of mourners taking part in the massive send-off.

Around 30 Rolls Royces lined took part in the procession as they followed Collins' horse-drawn coffin topped with a crown.

The 49-year-old, who lived in Darnall, died last month having flown out with other family members to celebrate his wife Kathleen's 48th birthday on July 3.

His sudden death has devastated his family and friends, with tributes pouring in from all over the city.

Speaking to Manchester Evening News his heartbroken wife Kathleen said: "He was the love of my life and our children and grandchildren are devastated.

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"He was the King of Sheffield and was very respected. He was very well-known and was a bare-knuckle boxer but was more of a peacemaker.

"I always used to say he was smooth in the middle but rough around the edges – that's just what he was.

She added: "I will miss him so much and my heart is broken. Sheffield will just never be the same without him."

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Willy, who was born in Ireland, moved to Sheffield in 1980 and grew up in Pitsmoor. He used to train at Brendan Ingle's gym in Wincobank and although he and his wife lived in various places, Sheffield was always home with the couple eventually settling in Darnall.

He had around 400 nieces and nephews, having been the patriarch of the Collins clan and Kathleen says his family, including his children and grandchildren, meant the world to him.

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