The death of former featherweight world champion Johnny Famechon aged 77 has rocked Australian boxing more than 30 years after he bravely battled back from a shocking accident that left him in a coma.
Best remembered for taking the title against Jose Legra in a thrilling 15-round bout in London in 1969 – then beating famous Japanese pug Fighting Harada later that year – Famechon died in Melbourne, it was announced on Thursday.
Famed for his silky skills with the gloves on, he proved he was also immensely tough outside the ring when he battled back after he was hit by a car near Sydney’s Warwick Farm racetrack in 1991.
The impact put him in a coma for 10 days and when he regained consciousness he had a brain injury and suffered a stroke – but fought his way back to lead what he described as ‘a great life.’
‘He had been at a sporting function at Warwick Farm and was heading back to his hotel when the car hit him,’ his wife Glenys said in an interview with boxing reporter Grantlee Kieza.
‘He spent a month in Liverpool Hospital and then months in hospitals in Melbourne.’
Glenys had met Famechon, a father of two, on a blind date a year before the accident.
His fellow Aussie world champion Jeff Fenech was gutted after hearing the news.
‘He never failed to send me a Christmas card and every time I saw him we would laugh and joke,’ he told radio 2GB.
‘He was such a beautiful man. On top of his legendary boxing record as a human he was second to none.