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Hundreds of travellers line streets for funeral of bare-knuckle fighter dad-of-nine dubbed the ‘King of Sheffield’

HUNDREDS of mourners turned out for the funeral of bare-knuckle fighter Willy Collins, also known as ‘The King of Sheffield’.

The dad-of-nine was laid to rest at Shiregreen Cemetery in Sheffield today as crowds of loved ones lined the streets to pay their respects.

Pictures of the incredible funeral cortege show 30 Rolls Royce lined up on Pitsmoor Road along with a convoy of quad bikes and mopeds.

Horses trotted behind Willy’s casket, which was carried to the cemetery in a horse drawn carriage.

Willy was born in Ireland but moved to Sheffield in 1980.

The bare-knuckle fighter’s funeral was held on Lady’s Day – a popular celebration in the Catholic and traveller communities.

Willy, who was also known as ‘Big Willy’, died in July after collapsing while on holiday with his family in Majorca.

He had flown to Spain to celebrate his wife Kathleen’s 48th birthday on July 3.

His sudden death left his family and friends heartbroken, with boxers Tyson Fury and Billy Joe Saunders among those sending their condolences.

Kathleen, who was married to Willy for 30 years, told Yorkshire Live: “He was the love of my life and our children and grandchildren are devastated.

“He was the King of Sheffield and was very respected. He was very well-known and was a bare knuckle boxer but was more of a peacemaker.

“I always used to say he was smooth in the middle but rough around the edges – that’s just what he was.”

As well as nine kids, Willy was also reported to have had around 400 nieces and nephews.

Kathleen said: “He doted on his children. They were his life and they called him ‘big daddy’.

“All the children and grandchildren called him that and he would always ring his nephews up who didn’t class him as an uncle – they classed him as a father.”

A post-mortem examination revealed Willy died of natural causes after a bleeding ulcer in his stomach burst to cause a haemorrhage.

Speaking ahead of the funeral, Kathleen said: “It’s going to be a very big funeral and people from all ethnic groups will come from every corner of the country because he was friends with so many people.

“Anyone who knew Willy is welcome to the funeral and I know that a lot of people in Sheffield are devastated.

“I will miss him so much and my heart is broken.”

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