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Ken Buchanan’s family dragged into bitter row over who can visit Scots boxing legend as he battles dementia

Boxing legend Ken Buchanan’s family have been dragged into a bitter row over who can visit him as he battles dementia.

Ken, considered Scotland’s greatest ever boxer, now lives in a care home in Edinburgh due to his condition, his son Mark announced earlier this week.

But his eldest son Raymond has hit out after the boxing champ’s best pal Jimmy Pace was sent a lawyer’s letter telling him to stop visiting.

Raymond has branded the move a “scandal” and “not in dad’s best interests”.

But Mark insists his dad has deteriorated considerably over the past year and no longer enjoys going out and being surrounded by fans and well-wishers.

Ken and best pal Jimmy Pace

Jimmy, 72, was broken-hearted to receive a letter from MHD Law telling him: “With immediate effect, you should desist from visiting Mr Buchanan MBE.”

The letter goes on to say: “This is as a result of your visits to Mr Buchanan MBE causing him upset and distress.”

Raymond, 56, who lives in Lanarkshire and has no say in his father’s care, said the legal letter had caused a major rift between Ken’s family and friends.

He said: “I’ve always been frozen out of my dad’s life, so I’m disappointed but not all that surprised.

“But it is a scandal to keep Jimmy away from my dad. I’ve never seen dad’s face light up on seeing anyone else the way it does when he sees Jimmy.

“They’ve been the best of mates for more than 30 years and he associates Jimmy with having fun.

“If my dad has deteriorated so much recently, maybe it’s because he’s not getting the stimulation he needs, and maybe he feels lonely because his best pal and some of his other pals can’t visit.

“He won’t understand why they’re not going in to see him. No way is that in his best interests of him. ”

Ken holding collection of boxing belts
Ken holding collection of boxing belts

Jimmy also spoke of his own heartache after receiving the legal letter, saying: “I’m not allowed to take him out, even though Ken loves going out.

“He sees me and his face lights up. He starts looking for his coat of him and asks me where we’re going.

“When I’ve told him I’m not allowed to take him out, he’s slumped back in his chair, disappointed.

“If there’s been any upset, that’s why, not because I’ve caused it.

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“I used to love taking him out, especially with some of the other old-timers we know.

“Honestly, the years just fell off him as we walked along.

“If we were around Leith and the city centre, I have recognized everywhere, all his old haunts, including buildings where he’d worked after his boxing days.

“He really came back to life and enjoyed being taken out for meals.

“When I asked him what he wanted, he’d say he’d just have a sandwich because that’s what he’s used to, but when I ordered for him, he’d tuck into two or three courses and he enjoyed the old stories.

Ken with wife Carol and son Mark
Ken with wife Carol and son Mark

“Ken is my mate so maybe I’m a bit biased, but he is the greatest boxer Scotland has ever produced. He’s still in massive demand for boxing nights and he was enjoying them until a few months ago, loving the change of scenery and the attention he got, but now the invitations are being turned down.

“It’s a shame because he loved people coming up to say how much they admired him and was always happy to sign autographs and pose for selfies.”

Son Mark, 50, said he and Raymond “were not close” and added that people who had not seen his father recently would not understand how severe his needs had become.

He said: “Anyone taking him out would have to be careful he didn’t wander.

“Even going for a meal, if my dad goes to the toilet, he’s liable to forget where he is and wander out the door rather than go back to his table.

“I’ve known Jimmy for years and I know he wants my dad to be the same pal he’s known for all these years, but he isn’t.

“He doesn’t want to go to the boxing nights any more. He finds the overwhelming attention and gets confused with so many strangers wanting photos.

“I just want to keep him safe.”

Family friend Owen Smith, 58, who had Ken as his coach when he was a promising boxer of 13, is registered as having power of attorney over his affairs, though he said he and Mark shared responsibility.

He said: “His memory has gone and he is deteriorating quite quickly.”

A spokesperson for Victoria Manor said: “We provide kind care to every resident and, wherever possible, support them to remain connected to the people and interests that help them to stay healthy and enjoy life.

“Any decision to restrict individuals from visiting, or taking residents outside of the home, is made by the resident, the person who has power of attorney and acts on their behalf, or in conjunction with the local authority.”

MHD Law was invited to comment and acknowledged the request but no comment was offered.

Mark announced details of his dad’s illness earlier this week, telling the BBC: “There has been a number of sporting stars of late announcing their dementia and, at the age of 76, my father’s dementia has likely come similarly as a result of his sport .”


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