CAMPAIGNERS aiming to erect a statue of Newport boxing champion David Pearce spent a night camped out in Belle Vue Park yesterday.

During his career David 'Bomber' Pearce was forced to sleep on a park bench before his European title fight in 1984 as the promoter had not booked accommodation for him.

And as the boxing champ used to train in Belle Vue Park, his nephew Luke Pearce and fellow fundraisers decided to hold a 'camp out' style evening as one of their many events to raise money for the statue.

Around 25 people turned up with sleeping bags and tents to settle down for the night and share memories of the former steel-worker from Pill.

So far, £24,000 has been raised for the bronze sculpture memorial which - when the £35,000 is fully raised - will be located near the University of South Wales campus on the banks of the Usk.

Pearce's nephew and fundraising committee member Luke Pearce said: "I have been doing this for around 17 years - that's collecting memorabilia and I've placed a lot of stuff in the library. I've been raising the profile of David and starting this campaign.

"We have raised £24,000 within eight months which is an amazing effort. I'm the treasurer of the committee as well.

"This event is all about raising awareness as well as funds, what David did that night was special, its something that should be reported about further at the time. What he did, sleeping on a park bench with a broken hand before his fight, was an amazing feat.

"We have four events left after this and we are well on target to making the money for the statue. We may be short for the shipping costs though which is something people may not know."

Businessman and fellow committee member Rob Santwris said: "This happened to David in the 80s. Now to the younger generation this may seem like a long time ago but it wasn't, there were good boxers about.

"To go all the way to Paris and spend the night on a park bench before a fight is insane really. Tonight we want to remember that.

"It's about raising money and its about raising awareness. For the kids here tonight to sleep out they can look back on this and there's another memory there. It's a nice and unique event for us too."

Mr Pearce and the fundraising committee want to give thanks to Hogarths, Party in the Parc, Malpas Unionists, Rob Santwris Carpets, Pill Harriers, Newport City Council and Belle Vue Park Wardens for their sponsorship.

For more information about the statue and to donate, visit