The pride of Dundee, boxer Dick McTaggart won gold and silver at the 1958 and 1962 Commonwealth Games in Cardiff and Melbourne, was the first British boxer to compete in three Olympiads and remains the only Scottish boxer to win Olympic gold. On Thursday 3 October he added to his accolades as he collected the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Team Scotland Scottish Sports Awards in Edinburgh.
A staunch supporter of the sport, Dick was in the stands supporting at the London 2012 Olympics and Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, where he presented the medals in the Lightweight event, in which Team Scotland’s Charlie Flynn won gold. Charlie was on hand to return the favour, presenting the award alongside Minister of Sport and Public Health, Joe FitzPatrick MSP and CGF President and Team Scotland athlete in 1962, Dame Louise Martin.
“I’m surprised and shocked,” Dick said on receiving his award. “As a matter of fact I’m very happy and humbled. Nobody told me, it’s very nice. When they read my name out my wife said, ‘that’s you’ and I said, ‘I can’t go up there, I can hardly walk!’ But I made it and it was a huge honour, I thoroughly enjoyed it.”
The competitive spirit is still strong – the answer to the question of who would win a match between himself and Charlie if both were at the height of their powers was delivered with a huge grin – “Me, of course!”
The 83 year old also became something of a social media hit with his winner’s interview watched almost 50,000 times.
Having experienced close to a home crowd as he was crowned Commonwealth champion at the Cardiff 1958 Games, he says there’s nothing like it to spur you on to Commonwealth Gold.
He said: “The support at home is a huge factor for a fighter and when I competed in Cardiff it was a home crowd for me. To this day I still remember walking into the arena with everyone cheering my name. Nothing can match it and it does give you that edge.”
Dick was born to box. One of 18 children born in a tough neighbourhood in Dundee, the young fighter had to spar with his brothers. It stood them in good stead. The family had the honour of claiming the national boxing championship titles from all three forces. Dick was RAF champion for five years, his brother Peter Royal Navy champion and another brother was army champion.
At first he wasn’t selected to box for Scotland and boxed for England instead, but luckily Team Scotland finally noticed his talent and he brought home two Olympic medals for Team GB as well as two medals for Scotland as a lightweight amateur boxer at the Commonwealth Games.
He credits the discipline and fun Boxing offered with keeping him active and out of trouble.
He said: “Amateur boxing instils discipline and keeps kids off the streets. Since my success I’ve worked with many youngsters and some of my happiest memories are of when I was national coach for 12 years throughout the 80s and 90s.
“It felt like I could give something back and offer the next generation some of the benefits of my success. I saw the world, I travelled everywhere from Los Angeles, New Zealand, Canada, Australia. The opportunities sport offers are amazing, it’s not just about the competing but the training itself prepares you for anything in life.”
“We’re still doing well in Scotland, I think it’s harder now to win a gold medal. They need to be fit for a start, not 99% fit, they need to be 100% fit when they go into that ring, especially at a championship. If you want to win a gold you’ve got the be fit.”
Dick won 610 of his 634 fights throughout his career, sealing his place in Scotland’s Hall of Fame. He was also awarded an MBE for his dedication to his sport.