PATRICK Ford was a champion in every aspect of his life.
The legend of Orange boxing died last Thursday at the age of 81.
As a boxer, Pat won a number of titles, but he was just as well regarded outside the ring.
“He was a great bloke to be around and he helped out when needed,” his son Tony explained.
“He was a practical joker.”
Pat’s ability in the the ring was undeniable. He fought with the CYMS Boxing Club under the guidance of Harry McDonald.
After a few wins as an amateur boxer, Pat turned professional in May 1951.
Two years later, as a 21-year-old, he claimed the Australian lightweight title when he knocked out Frank Flannery in 10 rounds in Melbourne.
Pat defended the title in July 1953.
The next month he won the Empire lightweight title when he beat Frank Johnson over 15 rounds in Melbourne.
In October, Pat took on Johnson again and defended his title when he knocked Johnson out in the 13th round.
Pat lost his Empire title in April 1954 to Ivor Germaine on points.
However, Pat won the title back three months later when he beat Germaine over 15 rounds with a points win.
At the age of 25, Pat announced his retirement in June 1955 with a record of 26 fights for 21 wins (including 16 knockouts) and five losses.
His success as a boxer helped him establish something he had always wanted - his own butcher shop.
“His whole ambition was to have his own business,” Tony said.
“When he started he won a few fights and then turned professional. Then he earned enough money to purchase his butcher shop and set himself up.”
He owned Pat Ford’s Butchery on March Street for 35 years before he retired in 1990.
Pat stayed involved with boxing after he retired as a trainer.
He helped establish the Orange PCYC.
Pat’s achievements as a boxer have been recognised in a number of ways in Orange.
“He was one of the very few people who had a ticker tape parade up Summer Street,” Tony said.
“They had the parade after he won the Australian title and he was presented with the key to Orange by the mayor at the time [John Jaeger].”
Pat is also in the Orange Sporting Hall of Fame.
“We [Pat’s family] want him to be remembered for how he put Orange on the map,” Tony said.
Pat was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia 12 years ago.
He died peacefully on Thursday, July 26 at St Francis Aged Care, Orange.
Pat is survived by his wife Marie, his children Tony, Paul, Sue and Bill, as well as grandchildren Michael and Steve.
A funeral service will be held today at St Joseph’s Catholic Church at 10am. The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made at the service to the Alzheimer’s Association.