Dec 27 2012 by Colin Paterson, Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser
Think of Airdrie’s Four Isles Boxing Club and Jimmy Robertson’s name immediately springs to mind.
Not that we should be surprised by that; he founded the club on December 13, 1979, after all.
In over three decades, he has helped young boxers achieve their goals and kept men away from drink and drugs and on the straight and narrow.
But at Petersburn Community Centre last Monday night, it was the end of an era. Jimmy, having given 12 months’ notice that he was stepping aside, did just that in the company of wife Margaret and the coaches and fighters he’s enjoyed working with over the years.
“I’m happy with what we have achieved and the time is right to move on,” he told the Advertiser. “I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. There is nothing more valuable than giving your time.”
As Jimmy takes you through his life, you begin to realise how much he has packed into it. He may be 72 but he is enthusiastic when he speaks, his eyes twinkling as he raids the memory banks.
His working life took him from the pits at Armadale to Northburn Steelworks in Coatbridge. He travelled the world with Mobile Norway and ended his career at the Inver House distillery.
But boxing was to become one of his greatest loves. He started, aged eight, following in the footsteps of older brother John, now 88.
“I just seemed to have natural ability,” said Jimmy, who fought at lightweight and light-welterweight. “I was just copying my brother.”
Winning the coal board championships in 1957 and 1958 were real highlights as “the competition was fierce”.
But as good as he was, and despite encouragement from Thomas McGowan, father of world flyweight champion Walter McGowan, and known as Joe Gans in the ring, he never turned pro – it never held any appeal to him.
He represented Scotland as a coach, referee, judge and team manager, though. Jimmy was the first-ever president of Amateur Boxing Scotland, a role he fulfilled twice. He was Scottish sports volunteer of the year in 2007.
Jimmy was previously involved with the Monklands Amateur Boxing Club in Caldercruix before starting up the Four Isles.
“There was nothing in this area,” he said. “I wanted to have a go at coaching but I took just as much pleasure in people coming to me and saying that if it wasn’t for the club, they or their relative or friend wouldn’t be here today.
“The first word anyone who comes through the door here learns is discipline. You need it inside and outside the ring.”
In 2010, Jimmy had triple-heart bypass surgery; not that it has slowed him down. He walks up to five miles a day and goes once a week to Airdrie Leisure Centre.
Jimmy and Margaret celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in July with a big family party at the working men’s club in Airdrie.
He’s not cutting his Four Isles ties completely and will remain honorary president.
“I will only be a phone call away,” he adds.