Tributes for "superhuman" boxing coach Burt Myers - a "ray of sunshine" who dedicated his life to helping others

Heartfelt tributes have been left for a "superhuman" and hugely respected former boxing coach, who touched the lives of so many people in Burnley.

Burt Myers, centre, with Salute Fitness coach Colin McCash and boxing promoter Kevin Maree
Burt Myers, centre, with Salute Fitness coach Colin McCash and boxing promoter Kevin Maree

Burt Myers, who had dedicated his entire life to helping others in the town, died on Saturday at The Grove care home in Rosegrove at the age of 81.

The father-of-three served as a beacon of hope and inspiration during his time in the sport, which spanned decades, and the doors to his gym were opened up to everyone.

Burt will be fondly remembered for his positivity, for being a vibrant bundle of energy and for his ability to make anyone in his company feel 10 times bigger.

Burt Myers and Kevin Maree

Promoter and manager Kevin Maree, who first met Burt 30 years ago when taking his first steps as a novice fighter, said: "I must have known him for 30 years and I can't remember him being in a bad mood at any point, which was just unbelievable.

"He was always happy regardless of the situation you were in. He was one of the best people that I've ever met to be around just for his persona of positive attitude.

"He made you feel like you could do anything and he made you feel like a million dollars. I always felt better whenever I saw him.

"He had that ability to make somebody feel 10 times the person they were, which is an amazing quality to have.

"He encouraged family values in an environment that was tough. His morals, values and ethics just made men better in Burnley.

"I learned everything from him. I learned about the sport of boxing and the skill of boxing. There aren't many of those old school coaches around anymore."

Burt had a hand in the careers of John and Peter Fury, the father and uncle of two-time heavyweight world champion Tyson Fury, as well as the likes of John Duckworth and Mark Hargreaves, who fought Wayne McCullough, Duke McKenzie and Colin McMillan.

He imparted his wisdom on to many more professionals in the game, but it was his commitment to helping people turn their lives around that stood him out from the rest.

Burt, born and bred in Burnley, didn't do it for the fame, he didn't do it for the fortune. He simply did it because he loved making a difference.

Having worked in several spaces, which were dotted throughout the town, Maree said: "He didn't put his name to anything. He didn't make anything about himself.

"He worked in gyms that didn't make money. He did it because he wanted to do it and because he loved it.

"These things are special and we might not get to see that anymore because the world has changed. That's something I'll always try to carry on. I want Burt's legacy to live on."

There's certainly no threat of his legacy dissipating anytime soon. Burt was still on the scene up to suffering a stroke three years ago, which severely hindered his quality of life.

Maree recalls having to keep tabs on his mentor whenever he would visit his boxing base at the Stirk House.

He never lost his enthusiasm for the sport. "He was nearly 82, but he was still taking sessions in my gym with Mark Heffron up until about five years ago," Maree said.

"Into his late 70s he was doing the pads with a monstrous puncher like Mark Heffron. It was just incredible, it's phenomenal for a man that age to be able to do that.

"I used to have to try and rein him in. I couldn't get him to calm down so in the end I just had to back off and let him do what he wanted to do.

"He was getting the pads out with these top pros and putting them through sessions. The lads loved it because he was dancing around the ring with them."

Maree added: "People can spot a messer and a time-waster a mile off, they can tell if somebody doesn't know what they're talking about.

"If somebody knows what they're talking about and people respect that then a boxer will automatically respond. Burt had that.

"Burt knew about the martial art of boxing, he knew what he was talking about and he immediately commanded that respect from lads.

"He also respected people and made them feel great. He would speak to everyone in the same way, whoever they were. He never turned anyone away.

"I always had him around me, whenever I did the corners and when I hosted sportsman's dinners.

"He was always there as a guest of honour and we sat him with the celebrities because I felt he deserved that."

Burt's granddaughter, Gemma, described him as a "ray of sunshine", who had made her childhood "magical".

The former builder, who had also served in the Armed Forces, loved his family and friends dearly.

The one-time Hargher Clough Junior School pupil, one of six siblings, was born on June 2nd, 1938.

He met his beloved wife, Loretta, as a teenager and the couple were married at the age of 18. They had been together ever since.

Burt also leaves behind his three children; Danny, Dale and Lorraine as well as all his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

"My Granddad brought me up, I lived with him from the age of five," said Gemma. "He was such a positive man and he used to wake me up every morning with some toast and a cup of tea and he'd tell me that the sun was cracking the flags. He would always pick out the positive in everything.

"He gave me a belief in myself that made me feel like there wasn't anything that I couldn't achieve. He did that to everyone, it wasn't just me, all his boxers felt the same way.

"He gave everyone a chance, he had people who were seen as 'down and outs' as well as drug addicts, but he would never give up on them. Regardless of the path they had taken he would always believe that they could pull it back.

"He always had time for people, no matter who they were or where they came from. I've had so many people coming up to me saying that my granddad saved their life."

Burt's health had deteriorated further 12 months ago when a fall left him with a bleed on the brain. He required two operations to treat the haemorrhage and, against the odds, he fought on.

Prior to that point, though, Gemma said that her popular granddad was still full of life, he was still dancing, still singing, still exercising and still telling his tales.

"He would always tell me that he was superhuman," she said. "When I was growing up I never knew him get sick. He was brilliant, he was always laughing and he loved to sing.

"He would always make me play the piano and he'd always sing-along. He liked tap-dancing as well. He just loved life and he was like a ray of sunshine.

"He would never say a bad word about anyone. He liked to bet and would always be putting money on the horses.

"He'd make a joke out of anything and he always had a story to tell. He had so many stories. He was a great man."

Gemma added: "Whatever he did it was his mission to be the best at it, he would put 100% into everything he did.

"He affected so many lives. He must have been a special man. He was great. He helped build my house in his late 70s.

"He loved children and he was brilliant with them. He had that fun nature. He made my childhood magical. You couldn't put a price on the gift that he gave me. He was always there for me, he was brilliant."