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Team GB boxer and Rochester pensioner Brian Packer, who fought at 1964 Tokyo Olympics, passes away following dementia battle


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A boxing champ who represented Britain at the Tokyo Olympics 57 years ago has died after a long battle with dementia.

Brian Packer, 77, passed away in hospital last night after taking a turn for the worse.

Olympian boxer Brian Packer with daughter Jane
Olympian boxer Brian Packer with daughter Jane

As previously reported, his close-knit family firmly believe the former bantamweight contracted the illness after years of suffering blows to the head.

They say the sport the dad-of-four took up as an 11-year-old schoolboy took its toll physically and mentally.

They plan to go ahead with a sponsored walk to raise money for the Alzheimer's Soiciety on Sunday, September 12 at Mote Park, Maidstone.

Granddaughter Beth is the team leader of the 5km Memory Walk which she has organised to support her grandmother, Brian's widow June.

While the family are filled with pride he was an Olympian, Brian himself never really recovered emotionally from missing out on a medal when a split-decision in his first bout went the way of Japanese boxer Takao Sakurai who went on to get the gold.

Bantamweight Brian Packer
Bantamweight Brian Packer

He went professional on his return from Japan, won a place in the European Games in Moscow and won a string of prestigious fights.

The former Chatham Dockyard worker, who lived in Rochester, was diagnosed 13 years ago.

But he had suffered ill health before, including mental health issues and had undergone a quadruple heart bypass.

His career, which started at Dartford Amateur Boxing Club, came to an end in 1972. He grew up in Northfleet.

He was working as a pipeline welder and fell into a trench, shattering his knee.

Boxer Brian Packer in his Olympics Tokyo 1964 blazer
Boxer Brian Packer in his Olympics Tokyo 1964 blazer

He won £8,500 damages but despite valiant efforts was unable to recover well enough to compete again.

Daughter Jane, 47, a mum of three daughters, is convinced her father's illness was brought on as a result of his boxing.

She has written to sport's regulatory authorities to plead for action to be taken.

For the first time in 30 years, men competing in the 2016 Rio Olympics did not wear headgear after the International Boxing Association said studies revealed there were fewer concussions without.

Women and girls are still required to wear protection as research is incomplete.

Granddaughter Beth Baxter with Brian and June
Granddaughter Beth Baxter with Brian and June

One thing's for sure, when the 25-strong team set off on the charity trek, they will be spurred on by Brian's remarkable courage and sporting achievement.

Jane said: "We will still all be doing the memory walk, and now we will be walking in his memory."

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