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Frank Hendry obituary: Top boxing official and former Dundee publican

Frank Hendry and a signed photograph presented to him by Muhammad Ali.
Frank Hendry and a signed photograph presented to him by Muhammad Ali.

Frank Hendry, one of amateur boxing’s top officials and founder of St Francis Amateur Boxing Club in Dundee, has died aged 91.

He managed the British Olympic team at the 1984 Los Angeles games and then served on the referees and judges commission at every Olympic games until 2004.

Frank also participated in 13 Commonwealth Games, first as Scotland team manager and then as an official.

He developed friendships with the biggest stars of the sport, including former world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali.

Frank Hendry and the Duke of Edinburgh at the 1970 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh.

A photograph of the pair hung in Frank’s pub, the Sporting Lounge in Lochee.

Frank and his wife Nessie got to know Ali well and met him at events around the world.

When St Francis relocated to new premises at Beechwood, Dundee, Frank managed to get American heavyweight Floyd Patterson to perform the opening ceremony.

Frank Hendry, Floyd Patterson and Lord Provost of Dundee Tom Mitchell.

As a young man, Frank was also a talented footballer and played for junior sides Osborne, Coupar Angus and Broughty Ferry.

He was born in Dundee to Francis Hendry, a bus inspector and Mary, who worked at the Andrew G Kidd bakery.


After schooling at Lawside Academy, Frank served his time as a toolsetter at Blackness Foundry before serving in the army with the Fife and Forfar Yeomanry.

During his time in the forces, Frank won an award for being the best all-round sportsman.

Swimmer David Wilkie with Frank and Nessie Hendry.

He had begun boxing aged 13 at the YMCA, continued in the army and then returned to the sport in civilian life.

Frank worked as a toolsetter at both Timex and NCR where he served as a shop steward.

In 1958 he founded St Francis Amateur Boxing Club. The original coach was Jim Brady and Frank looked after training, refereeing and judging.

Many notable boxers began with the club, including Dick McTaggart and brothers Frank and Dennis Gilfeather.

Frank Hendry, top, with Swedish actor Dolph Lundgren; left with Irish boxing champion Barry McGuigan; right, with Margaret Thatcher.

The club first met at St Francis Friary in Tullideph Road before a move to Hilltown and then premises off King’s Cross Road.

Frank went on to manage Scottish and British boxing teams at major championships, including the Olympics but it was in the sport’s governance where he made his longest contribution.


He served as president and executive director of the Scottish Amateur Boxing Association and was honorary vice-president of the European Amateur Boxing Association.

For decades he oversaw standards as a member of the referees and judges commissions at Commonwealth Games and the Olympics.

At home, he was forging a business career in Dundee. He met his future wife, Nessie, in 1967 and in 1974, the couple took over Oddfellows bar on Victoria Road and relaunched it as the sporting-themed Commonwealth bar.

Lord Provost Tom Moore with Frank Hendry in the Commonwealth Bar in 1974.

Later they took over the Silver Tassie pub in Lochee, renamed it the Sporting Lounge and adorned it with boxing photographs and memorabilia.

For many years Frank served as president of Dundee Licensed Trade Association and, in 1994, was named Dundee’s citizen of the year for his sporting achievements and community contributions.


Frank put on boxing shows in Dundee, attracting teams from Wales, Ireland and England and would take teams on reciprocal visits.

These shows were held first at the Angus Hotel and then the Stakis Earl Grey, and also Dunblane Hydro.

Top table guests over the years included Dick McTaggart, Jim Watt and Ken Buchanan.

For more than 30 years, Frank and Nessie held the bar and catering franchise for events at Caird Hall, Dundee.

Top politicians

The couple had three daughters, Ashley, Debbie and Wendy. Ashley recalls making soup for then-prime minister Tony Blair during a Labour conference in the hall.

She said: “Over many years my father brought many international teams to Dundee including from Cuba, New York Golden Gloves, Canada, Denmark, Hungary and Saudi Arabia.

“His younger brother, Gordon, was also an international referee and judge for boxing and participated in many tournaments around the world.”

Frank Hendry with athlete Liz McColgan in 1986.

St Franics Boxing Club said in a statement: “The club sends its condolences and prayers to Nessie and his family at this sad time.

“Frank developed the boxing club over the decades and produced many champions and placed Dundee and the former Midlands district boxing fraternity at the forefront of Scottish and international boxing.


“The great and good of world boxing including Ken Buchanan, Jim Watt, Walter McGowan and Dundee’s own Olympic champion Dick McTaggart regularly attended St Francis Boxing Club’s dinners and events.”

A spokesman for Boxing Scotland said: “Frank founded St Francis Boxing Club before going on to become president and executive director of the predecessor of Boxing Scotland, the Scottish Amateur Boxing Association (SABA).

“In addition to those roles he was boxing’s representative on the British Olympic Association, secretary of the British Amateur Boxing Association and president of the Commonwealth Amateur Boxing Association.

“Frank was also the Great Britain team manager at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles and again in the USA at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, as well as being the director of boxing at the 1986 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh.”


Frank, who had been living with dementia, died peacefully on May 16 with his daughter Ashley by his side.

He is survived by Nessie, his daughters and grandchildren Rebecca, a kickboxing coach, Samantha, Sofie, Hannah, Rhys and Ellis.

Frank’s funeral will take place on Tuesday, May 31 at 1pm at St Andrew’s Cathedral, Dundee.

You can read the family’s announcement here.