TRIBUTES have been paid to a retired Newport boxer who died suddenly aged 42.

Gareth Boddy, of Pill, died on May 13 at Gold ABC Boxing G y m , Shaftsbury, after an undiagnosed blood clot travelled to his heart.

The former milkman and machine operator first took up boxing aged ten after his father, Winston, gave permission for the Phoenix Boxing Gym to be set up in spare rooms at the Waterloo Hotel, which he ran.

The southpaw fighter, who leaves his widow, Jill, showed early promise and fought in a number of national schoolboy bouts before he moved to Heath Boxing Club in Cardiff.

There he was trained by former Welsh light-middleweight champion Pat Thomas, and went on to win a string of youth titles, including a bronze medal in the Gaelic Championships of 1986.

The light-middleweight boxer then went on to train with Pontypool Amateur Boxing Club under the guidance of current Wales national boxing coach Tony Williams.

As a senior he fought in 20 bouts with St Joseph’s Boxing Club – 15 of which he won – before turning professional in 1992.

But his career was short-lived and he threw in the towel after two defeats and later turned his hand to coaching.

His friend and former trainer Royston Chambers described him as a “popular” man.

He said: “He was a lovely man, an up-and-coming coach and I’ve known him since he was a little kid.

“He was very well-liked, he will be sorely missed.”

Trainer Tony Borg, of St Joseph’s Boxing Gym, who prepared Mr Boddy for his two professional fights, said: “He was committed, he always turned up to training early and was the last to leave.

“He was a genuinely lovely person, he was a talented boxer, it’s a great loss to the gym.”

A minute’s silence was held at the Inner Core Promotions boxing event at Newport Centre on Saturday.

Mr Boddy’s funeral will take place at 10am on Friday at St Michael’s Church, Clarence Street, Pill.

Friends are asked to meet at 9.15am near St Stephen’s Church, Alexandra Road, to follow the cortège to the service.