A PRESTIGIOUS Lonsdale belt belonging to Cefneithin boxing champion Robert Dickie who passed away last week has been returned to his family 12 years after it was auctioned.
It is expected to be displayed at his funeral today at Llanelli Crematorium. Mr Dickie died of a heart attack at his Llanelli home aged just 46.
A conversation between two of his friends at the Smiths Arms pub in Ffoelgastell sparked a search for the belt which Dickie had sold in auction.
Mr Dickie won the British featherweight title in April 1986 by defeating John Feeney.
He defended it against Steve Sims, then won a rematch against Feeney to claim the Lonsdale belt outright. It was the fastest time a boxer had won the belt, earned for winning three British title fights.
Kevin Evans, who runs Olympic uPVC in Cross Hands and Roy James, headteacher of Llandeilo's Ysgol Teilo Sant, set about doing their own detective work to track down the belt.
Kevin said: "When Robert auctioned the belt he thought it could go towards a boxing collection. We thought it would be fitting to bring the belt home for his family."
The belt was found in Newcastle Upon Tyne at Anderson & Garland Auctioneers where it was ready for auction. Roy James, a close friend of Mr Dickie said: "We spoke to the auctioneers and they were very understanding about what we were trying to do." Mr Evans said the local community had welcomed the belt's return after he came up with the cash for it.
"I bought the belt, I'm not going to say how much I spent but I collected it from Swansea train station when it was sent by courier from Newcastle.
"We took it to the Smiths Arms and everyone was pleased to have it back in the local area and for the family."
Both friends said they were talking with Robert's family about how the belt should be displayed at the funeral.
Mr Dickie was married to Helen, and had two boys. A private service will take place at the house followed by a public service at the crematorium