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Tributes paid to Mansfield boxing legend who was ‘loved by everyone’

Ashley ‘Mad Dog’ Barker sadly passed away last week.

Ashley Barker, known affectionately by many as ‘Mad Dog’, has been described as “an amazing son, brother, uncle, step-dad, cousin, friend, boxing coach and fighter”.

On Thursday, July 14, Ashley’s family were sadly informed that he had passed away following an ongoing battle with mental illness.

“It came as a massive shock to everyone,” Ashley’s cousin Sally Pinder said.

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Pictured from left: Ashley’s brother Mark Barker, mum Barbara Barker, brother Brett Barker, dad Gary Barker and Ashley Barker.

“He was always one to help others by talking about mental health in TikTok videos and on his Facebook page, telling people to speak up and not let mental illness win.”

Ashley was well-known in the area, having been born and bred in Shirebrook and worked as a boxing coach at the Body and Soul Gym in Mansfield.

He was part of a big family, leaving behind his mum and dad Barbara and Gary, two brothers Mark and Brett, immediate family Jade and Emily, along with nephews, nieces, step-son Devon and many cousins ​​and other relatives in the area.

“He was so well-loved and always really funny, happy-go-lucky and always joking about,” Sally said.

Ashley Barker with his dad Gary and nephew Lennox at a Stags game.

“He was an absolutely huge Stags fan – never missed a game and always shared the experiences with his dad Gary.

“He’s also donated a lot for charity with his boxing matches and he recently set up a joinery business building garden sheds, which was going well.

“But it was one of them where you never truly knew how he was feeling inside. He had everything going for him, but he was suffering in silence.

“If he could truly have seen how much he was loved then it could have been a different story.

Ashley with his beloved step-son Devon.

“He was a legend and will have left a memory in everyone’s hearts.”

In honor of Ashley, his family wants to spread the message to other men struggling with their mental health that it is always best to speak up.

She said: “This shouldn’t have happened to Ash, he didn’t deserve to feel that there was no way out.

“His story has opened many people’s eyes to the true impact of the stigma surrounding mental health in men and the importance of seeking help before it’s too late.

Ashley was fond of this action shot, which was captured at one of his boxing matches.

“Ashley’s legacy will live on and I hope this story will help save someone else’s life who is suffering in silence.”

Since the news of Ashley’s passing, the Mansfield community has united to help give him the send-off he deserves.

A charity event was held at the Shirebrook Ex-Servicemens Club over the weekend, with fireworks to honor Ashley’s memory and raise money for his funeral.

A fundraising page has also been set up to raise funeral costs – having already drummed up almost £3,700 in a matter of days.

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Meanwhile, tributes to the avid Stags fan have been posted all over social media and online by his loving family and friends.

Sam Broadbent said: “Ash was such a lovely. down-to-earth lad and this news is truly heart-breaking. RIP Ash.”

Louise Davenport said: “I’m heartbroken big lad, I’ll miss your contagious smile and our chats. Hope you’ve found peace now, dude – now go up there and show them how boxing’s really done, champ.”

Charlotte Shaw said: “He was a top lad and all of Shirebrook are in utter shock. Rest in paradise Ashley, you are going to be missed by so many.”

To get behind the community and donate towards the cost of Ashley’s funeral, click here.

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