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Moray boxing supremo Donald Campbell turned 80 this week and the third and final part of his 65-year career story tells how he refereed future boxing world champions Ricky Hatton, Joe Calzaghe and Wladimir Klitschko, and also how he led Scotland to glory at three Commonwealth Games


By Craig Christie

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It's the third and final part of Donald Campbell's career story charting an incredible 65 years in boxing - to make his 80th birthday this week.

Donald Campbell runs an Elgin B&B.
Donald Campbell runs an Elgin B&B.

Read more:

Part 1 - How Donald Campbell became known as the Highland Haymaker in his own boxing career

Part 2 - Coaching the best young talent to national glory in the ring

The article below appeared in the Northern Scot in September 2017, marking Donald Campbell's 60 years in boxing at the time.

It will take around 10 minutes to read.

Donald Campbell refereed a Ricky Hatton title fight.
Donald Campbell refereed a Ricky Hatton title fight.

HOW many people can say they’ve been in the boxing ring with world champs Joe Calzaghe, Ricky Hatton and Wladimir Klitschko?

Donald Campbell can, for he has refereed bouts involving all three boxers when they were amateur hopefuls just beginning their journey towards stardom.

The new Boxing Scotland president is a recognised face to some of the sport’s big names, no great surprise given that he had devoted 60 years to the noble art in a wide variety of roles.

As a young boxer he fought for Scotland and sparred with Ken Buchanan, one of the greatest fighters this country has produced.

Donald was a winner at the 2015 sportMoray Recognition Awards, winning the Local Service to Sport Award. Picture: Daniel Forsyth.
Donald was a winner at the 2015 sportMoray Recognition Awards, winning the Local Service to Sport Award. Picture: Daniel Forsyth.

Donald has been a boxing referee and judge across the world, and Team Scotland manager at three Commonwealth Games.

He has coached numerous young local boxers, and worked with top Scots during his long service to his country’s governing body.

Trainer, supervisor, administrator... if there’s a job in boxing, Donald’s done it.

Now aged 75, the Elgin B&B proprietor still loves to go into the ring. Whether he’s down at the Elgin Amateur Boxing Club which he co-founded nearly 50 years ago, or filling in as a referee at local fight nights, stepping through those ropes still gives him a good feeling.

Donald Campbell with Chris Eubank.
Donald Campbell with Chris Eubank.

“I still referee. Not that long ago on a Friday night I refereed 11 bouts and on the Saturday I refereed another 11 bouts,” he said.

Among the superstars he was ran the rule over during his refereeing career is undefeated Welshman Calzaghe, who was the longest-reigning super-middleweight world champion in boxing history after successfully defending his WBO title 21 times over 10 years.

Donald also refereed two-time heavyweight world champion Klitschko, the giant Ukrainian who recently retired from the ring after losing to British star Anthony Joshua in a battle for the IBF, WBA and IBO titles.

And the Moray man was later remembered by former world light-welterweight and welterweight champion Hatton, known as ‘The Hitman’, for the time the pair met in the ring. “Yes Klitschko, I refereed him and Joe Calzaghe, I did his British title semi-final.

Joe Calzaghe (right) was another boxing legend who fought a bout refereed by Donald Campbell.
Joe Calzaghe (right) was another boxing legend who fought a bout refereed by Donald Campbell.

“I had a tape of the Ricky Hatton fight I did. It was at the Elephant and Castle in London and Hatton won, and I met him four or five years later. I said ‘you won’t remember me’ and he said ‘Oh Mr Campbell I remember you’ and he signed both his gloves for me. He also called his son Campbell, though not after me I’m sure!

“There were lots of big names but of course they weren’t big names then, but went on to be.”

He also encountered the likes of Carl Froch (former super middleweight world champ) – who he described as “cantankerous” – and David Haye (ex-world cruiserweight and heavyweight champion).

“David Haye wouldn’t wear the English tracksuits, he came with the Scottish boys all the time. I met him again years later and he said he knew my face. He came back after and spoke to us, it was nice of him to do that.

Donald Campbell with former world champ David Haye (left).
Donald Campbell with former world champ David Haye (left).

“But of all the bouts I refereed. There isn’t really any special one that springs to mind. I just enjoy doing them all.”

Highly respected across Scottish boxing circles, Donald is regularly invited to sporting dinners and meets some of the sport’s national heroes who he now considers to be friends.

Those include former sparring partner Ken Buchanan, ex-world lightweight champ Jim Watt and Dick McTaggart, one of Scotland’s greatest amateur fighters who retired with a record of 610 wins from 634 bouts.

Donald Campbell with boxing great Dick McTaggart.
Donald Campbell with boxing great Dick McTaggart.

“Ken was up as a speaker at a dinner recently, then there’s the great Dick McTaggart. When there were any dinners up here and Jim Watt came up here, they always invited me as a local boxing person so I went to quite a few.”

The man whose own boxing career saw him known as the Highland Haymaker has helped many young Scots towards glory.

Donald Campbell has been a trainer and coach, as well as a judge, referee and administrator in his sport over the past sixty years.

Perhaps one of his greatest honours was to be chosen as Scotland’s team manager for the Commonwealth Games on three occasions.

Describing his career path in boxing, Donald said: “I went on to doing the coaching, and I became a judge and then once you became a judge, a year after that you became a referee.

“I did a lot of Scottish championships and then you go on to referee internationals. It used to be European, and I had about 15 internationals and then you became an AIBA referee which is the world thing.

“I’ve done more than 100 internationals now, I think it’s 110. I also did 55 team manager events for Scotland and that took me everywhere.

“I did the Commonwealth Games three times, the only one to do three with Scotland.”

ELGIN BOXER.DONALD CAMPBELL.
ELGIN BOXER.DONALD CAMPBELL.

He earned the distinction of managing Scotland’s boxing team at the last Games of the 20th century – at Kuala Lumpar in Malaysia in 1998, and the first of the 21st century at Manchester in 2002.

Donald also made the long journey to Australia to lead his country’s fighters at Melbourne in 2006.

Prior to that he did three Commonwealth Championships in Canada, Malaysia and Scotland, where he was involved in the organising of the Glasgow event.

“The first gold we won was with (featherweight) Alex Arthur (Kuala Lumpar) who went on to become world champion. At Manchester we had two bronze – Craig McKeown and Andrew Young. Kenny Anderson won a gold and we had two bronze at the other one.

“Boxing is only sport where we have won a medal every time at the Commonwealth Games and we have produced some good fighters.

“Hopefully we can do the same in Australia next year.”

Donald has also been a supervisor for the Scottish Championships for many years, and served as secretary of the European judges and referees.

He still does examination of potential boxing judges, and is actively trying to recruit more referees in his sport.

"I’m still doing the refereeing but my concern now is because I’m getting older, I would hate to be responsible if something happened to one of those boxers. It’s not for me to say if I’m good or bad.

“There are very few younger referees coming in. I would like to see more. I hope some of the boxers at the club will do what I did when I was younger and go into refereeing.

“But the kids are always the most important not the referees. It’s all about the youngsters and how good they are going to go.”

For all his international travel through boxing, Donald’s roots remain firmly in Moray.

Having boxed for clubs in Fochabers, Huntly and Forres, he founded the Elgin Boxing Club in 1969.

At times he has been running the club almost single-handedly, but now the structure is strong to plot out a bright future for Moray youngsters to develop their skills.

“Most of the older guys in boxing once they die their club finishes. No-one else knew where the funds were.

“But I’ve got a secretary, treasurer and president now so if anything happens to me tomorrow, Elgin Boxing Club will continue. All our funds are in the bank and used the way they should so it’s good for the future.”

Sixty years in boxing is an incredible career, and Donald expects the curtain to come down soon.

"It’s probably a good time for me to cut off, after 60 years.

“I’m 75 and although I wouldn’t go out of it altogether, Kevin (club official) Gentleman can more or less run it himself now. He phones me for advice now and again, if he needs it.

“I’ve held every position in the boxing in the north and the Scottish, so it would be a good time to go when you’ve done that."


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