Boxer, referee and celebrity tailor

Born: September 17, 1934;

Died: January 13, 2018

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LEN Mullen, who has died aged 83, was a famed Scottish amateur boxer, pro referee and celebrity tailor to renowned figures like Jock Sten and Muhammad Ali.

A proud Glaswegian, Mullen embraced amateur boxing in the late 1940s with the then famous LMS Rovers club which had links with Benny Lynch. There the young Mullen shone as a youth champion before graduating to becoming an internationally renowned senior amateur boxer at both light-middleweight and middleweight.

Having cut a victorious swathe through Scotland's 11-stone light-middleweight boxers, Mullen battled through to the British ABA and European championships in London and Poland in 1953 although on both occasions Mullen met his nemesis in England's Bruce Wells who bested him in both tournaments at the semi-final stages.

Nevertheless, after their tough European clash, Mullen and Wells formed a lifelong friendship. Mullen loved to recount how he accepted an invitation from Wells to go on a walk with him that turned out to be a 26 mile hike.

Around the same time, Mullen had been conscripted and did his national service in the Royal Air Force - a decision which would have far reaching - if unforeseen - consequences on his future life and professional career.

Firstly, while in the RAF, he came under the tutelage of the legendary RAF boxing coach ''Chiefy'' Roy who guided Mullen and Scotland's only Olympic boxing gold medal winner Dick McTaggart to victory in various Imperial Services championships. Mullen and McTaggart also boxed regularly for Scotland against the cream of European amateur boxers.

Mullen also struck up a friendship with fellow RAF national serviceman and future film maker Ken Loach little realising that he himself, one day, would graduate to acting as an extra with film stars such as Brian Cox and Peter Capaldi.

In tandem with his boxing success, Mullen also developed his expertise as an bespoke gentleman's tailor eventually setting up his own business in Glasgow's Aikenhead Road.

There, he counted among his celebrity clients the likes of Celtic manager, Jock Stein and many other leading Scottish and international sports and showbiz celebrities such as Muhammad Ali. Mullen made a suit for the ''Greatest'' when the latter was boxing an exhibition against Jimmy Ellis in Glasgow in the early 1960s.

Although Mullen said that he and Ali got along famously on that occasion, the celebrity whom Mullen most liked to talk about was the American 1976 Olympic lightweight boxing gold medallist Howard Davies. By 1980 Mullen had also become a Scottish Area Council professional boxing referee and was scheduled to officiate in June 1980 at Ibrox Park on the undercard of the WBC lightweight title clash that featured Glasgow's Jim Watt defending his title against Davis.

On hearing that Mullen was a first rate tailor Davis's American manager, Dennis Rappaport, asked Mullen to make a pair of ''eye catching trunks'' for Davis. Mullen duly produced a pair of salmon pink boxing trunks and went on to officiate at the fight. In his career as a referee, Mullen presided over 500 bouts.

Mullen himself had turned pro in 1956 and it was a mark of his quality in the paid ranks that he stopped future British middleweight champion George Aldridge inside a couple of rounds in 1957. The same year, America's prestigious Ring magazine also nominated Mullen as one of their light heavyweight Prospects of the Year.

However, according to Mullen, his most memorable paid bout was his Scottish middleweight title clash with his fellow Glaswegian and close friend, John "Cowboy'' McCormack, at Firhill Stadium in Maryhill in 1958.

During their torrid fight - won on points by McCormack - Mullen recounted that McCormack told him he would be coming around to Mullen's premises to be measured for a tuxedo a few days after their fight, which he duly did.

One major disappointment for Mullen was that, despite refereeing over 500 paid bouts, he was denied the coveted ''A'' Star class licence which would have allowed him to handle major international championship bouts.

A gregarious and sociable figure, Mullen was popular with Scotland's wider boxing fraternity, especially in his native west of Scotland where he regularly attended ex-boxer reunions.

He also showed his innate ability to roll with life's foul blows when he fought and overcame prostrate cancer in the 1990s.

Even more remarkably, having conquered cancer and finding that his retirement from actively officiating at fights left him bored, Mullen recalled his earlier Royal Air Force association with Ken Loach and took up acting as an extra. He worked with A-Listers like Peter Capaldi, Brian Cox, Leslie Philips and Ian Richardson in films such as Murder Room and Strictly Sinatra with Ian Cuthbertson.

Len Mullen combined the roles of boxer, tailor, referee and film extra with being an equally successful husband, father and grandfather to his family, who survive him.

BRIAN DONALD