TRIBUTES have been paid by friends and family to a talented boxing coach who taught some of this country’s best boxers.
Brian Smart, the chairman of Harrow and District Amateur Boxing Club, died on Saturday, three days before his 74th birthday.
Mr Smart had worked for more than 40 years at the club and trained Olympic gold medallists James DeGale and Audley Harrison, both from Harlesden.
Fellow coach Chris Hanwell said: “He befriended everyone and didn’t have a bad word to say about anyone. He was a lovely person and he was very approachable and very welcoming and made everyone feel welcome.
“He was the one who gave James DeGale the nickname of Chunky.”
Mr Smart is survived by his wife Brenda and their sons Nick, 45, and Mitch, 47, and grandchildren, Jade, 21, Jodie, 19, Harry, 10, and Rosie, 12, all from Harrow.
Mrs Smart said: “He has done boxing all his life. He could never be a boxer himself, as he had a weak heart. He joined the club for the boys, but they didn’t really enjoy it, but Brian stayed on.”
The couple would have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in June.
Mr Smart enjoyed making Cornish pixie keyrings and once had a shop in Camden.
“He was a little bit eccentric and he loved history,” said Mrs Smart. “He was very clever and artistic and was good at DIY.”
Mr Smart had a stroke on Friday night and was taken to Northwick Park Hospital where he died the following day after a second stroke.
His funeral is at 1pm on Thursday, April 11, at Golders Green Crematorium.