Dennis Waterman may be an actor who strode both sides of the law in The Sweeney and Minder before gaining longlevity with New Tricks, a current favourite.

However Waterman has very much a sporting background _ he used to train as an amateur boxer in a London gym and his brother Peter became British and welterweight champion before tragedy struck and claimed him way ahead of his time.

Up here we remember Dennis, too, playing Bob Jones, captain of the West Auckland team that won the first World Cup back in 1909 defeating the might of Juventus and successfully defended it two years later.
A Captain’s Tale was a true story made in 1982 and Waterman, who participated in many charity football matches, was in his element as the crop haired leader of a bunch of miners who took the soccer world by storm.

While my first love has always been Newcastle United Waterman knew of my passion for boxing and that fit perfectly into his make up.

He told me of how dad was a keen amateur boxer and how, aged 10, he himself began sparing at Caius Boxing Club. He was rated a good prospect. However Peter was something else.
“A dark haired Paul Newman, the most magnificent person I ever knew with unbelievable talent,” said a proud brother.

Peter Waterman was the youngest boxer to represent Britain at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics and as a pro won the British and European welter titles. He twice fought the legendary Kid Gavilan but in his 49th pro bout tragedy struck. Peter was pummelled to defeat by Dave Charnley and rushed to hospital where he was diagnosed with serious brain damage.

At 21 years of age he would never be the same again. By 52 he was dead of a massive heart attack. Dennis was crushed.

Acting saved Dennis from a career risking life and limb like Peter but his love of the sport never waned. In the credits of Minder, you may recall, was a shot of Waterman in boxing shorts and gloves, his arms raised in victory.