A famous sculptor who created the iconic Beatles statue which stands on the world-famous Liverpool waterfront has backed plans to bring a new Bendigo statue to Nottingham.
Andrew Edwards was so inspired by the story of one of England’s best bare-knuckle boxers, who grew up in Trinity Square, Nottingham, that he created a prototype of the Bendigo statue free of charge.
A campaign to bring back the sporting legend in bronze was started in December 2015 by Ryan Walker-Drain, 27, who felt there needed to be a fitting tribute to the star in the city centre.
At the moment, there is a statue of the champion fighter above Zam Zam Restaurant in Sneinton, but campaigners believe it is tucked away and in a bad condition.
The Bendigo Memorial Fund was set up, with only £1,000 of the desired £60,000 having been raised – but that hasn’t stopped Mr Walker-Drain fighting for the statue.
Through Twitter he contacted Andrew Edwards, from Stoke-on-Trent, who has previously presented statues to Barack Obama, Muhammad Ali and Desmond Tutu.
He was also responsible for The Beatles statue at the Pierhead in Liverpool.
The Beatles sculpture in Liverpool.
Mr Walker-Drain told the Post: “I think he is one of the most talented guys out there. He has no ties to Nottingham but he is besotted with the Bendigo story, which is such an honour.
“We followed him on Twitter and he came to us and wanted to be part of this. I think he is a legend.”
Ryan Walker-Drain with Bendigo statue created by Andrew Edwards.
In the 19th century Bendigo, who was born and grew up in Nottingham, was one of England’s best bare-knuckle boxers and a champion fighter.
Born in 1811, Bendigo was the last of 21 children. They grew up in poverty in New Yard (now known as Trinity Walk), off Parliament Street.
His mother Mary taught him to stand up for himself in one of the town’s toughest areas. When he was 15 his father collapsed and died, condemning the family to the workhouse and Bendigo began fighting for money.
From the peak of his career in 1825 until he retired in 1850, he was undefeated in 23 fights and became the champion of All England.
Later in life the reformed drunkard turned evangelist, attracting great crowds, eager to see and hear their hero.
He retired to a cottage in Wollaton Road, Beeston, enjoying the autumn of his life fishing by the Trent.
At the moment, the Memorial Fund group says it is in close contact with Nottingham City Council with the hope of receiving a grant.
And the group has also been in touch with the developers of the new Guildhall Hotel to see if they will fund the plinth.
Mr Walker-Drain said Mr Edwards wants to create a full size Bendigo but at the moment there is not enough money in the pot to fund the project.
He said: “I believe we will get a grant at some point. People are making the right noises. There will be a break through. Bendigo was a man of the city and he should be in the city.
“Bendigo was our first champion in Nottingham and it is important to pay homage to him. The fact that he could not read or write, he was a working class hero, and I think he can still inspire now. We are an underdog city and he captures that.”
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Marcellus Baz, founder of Nottingham School of Boxing, who is in full support of the project, told the Post: “I think it is a great idea because young people need to know about the history. They are making it come back to life and educating a lot of people about the boxing history in the city.
“We do have an amazing boxing history here and I think by these guys raising awareness of it, it is a fantastic initiative I really support.”
Thanks to the Nottingham Post for this story. – Original Article
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