Willy Collins dead: Tributes for King of Sheffield bare-knuckle fighter

A devastated wife has paid tribute to her bare knuckle fighter husband known as “The King of Sheffield” after he died on holiday in Majorca.

Dad-of-nine Willy Collins died earlier this month after collapsing while on holiday with his family, The Sun reports.

Willy, who was also known as “Big Willy”, had flown to Spain to celebrate his wife Kathleen’s 48th birthday on July 3.

His sudden death has left his family and friends heartbroken, with boxers such as Tyson Fury and Billy Joe Saunders also paying tribute.

Kathleen, who was married to Willy for 30 years, told Yorkshire Live: “He was the love of my life and our children and grandchildren are devastated.

Bare knuckle fighter Willy Collins has died. Picture: MEN Media/australscopeSource:australscope

“He was the King of Sheffield and was very respected. He was very well-known and was a bare knuckle boxer but was more of a peacemaker.

“I always used to say he was smooth in the middle but rough around the edges — that’s just what he was.”

Willy was born in Ireland but moved to Sheffield in 1980.

As well as nine kids, he also had around 400 nieces and nephews.

Bare knuckle fighter Willy Collins has died. Picture: MEN Media/australscopeSource:australscope

Kathleen said: “He doted on his children. They were his life and they called him ‘big daddy’.

“All the children and grandchildren called him that and he would always ring his nephews up who didn’t class him as an uncle — they classed him as a father.”

A post-mortem examination revealed Willy died of natural causes after a bleeding ulcer in his stomach burst to cause a haemorrhage.

Kathleen added: “It’s going to be a very big funeral and people from all ethnic groups will come from every corner of the country because he was friends with so many people.

Bare knuckle fighter Willy Collins has died. Picture: MEN Media/australscopeSource:australscope

“Anyone who knew Willy is welcome to the funeral and I know that a lot of people in Sheffield are devastated.

“I will miss him so much and my heart is broken.”

— This story originally appeared in thesun.co.uk and has been republished with permission

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