The sports world is mourning the passing of former featherweight boxing world champion Johnny Famechon, who, as an Associated Press account cited by ESPN.com reports, died in Australia this week at the age of 77.
The renowned athlete’s death was announced on Thursday by the Sport Australia Hall of Fame, and though no immediate cause was mentioned, Famechon had long been suffering the effects of having been struck by a car while running back in 1991, after which he experienced a stroke and sustained a brain injury.
Born in France in1945 as Jean-Pierre Famechon, the boxer relocated to Australia at age five, and he notched his most noteworthy achievement when he took the word title in his weight class in a points decision victory against Jose Legra of Cuba in London back in 1969.
Six months after his win against Legra, Famechon defended his title against Masahiko Harada of Japan, winning by points, and in a rematch, he scored a knockout against his opponent in the 14th round.
Remaining in the world of professional fighters for over two decades, Famechon collected a career total of 56 wins – 20 of which were by knockout – and five losses.
After his retirement from sports, Famechon was honored with a bronze statue in his hometown of Frankston, and he was also tapped to become a Member of the Order of Australia for significant service to elite-level boxing.
Reaction to the news of Famechon’s death poured in this week, with John Bertrand of Sport Australia Hall of Fame declaring, “Johnny Famechon was one of the most popular Australian boxers of all time. Johnny was our humble, skillful world champion, showing the essence of how we see our heroes. He was described as poetry in motion, a master craftsman.”
Australian journalist Ben Damon was similarly effusive in his praise, noting, according to Sports Illustrated’s The Spun, “Australia has lost a sporting icon. May the legendary Johnny Famechon rest in peace.”
Reporter Nick McCallum paid tribute by dubbing Famechon “Australia’s classiest boxer” and noted that “his determination helped him live with horrific road accident injuries while retaining an endearing, cheeky sense of humor and smile,” and fans everywhere will no doubt similarly and fondly remember his exploits in the ring for decades to come.