Aug 2 2008
A GYPSY curse has been put on thieves who stole a caravan which belonged to world-famous bare-knuckle boxing legend Bartley Gorman.
The Staffordshire pugilist reigned as 'King of the Gypsies' for more than two decades after becoming the unofficial champ of Britain and Ireland in 1972.
The Staffordshire fighter died of liver cancer in 2002 before he could move into the luxury home he had built in Uttoxeter.
Until then he had been living in his beloved 1971 Morecambe caravan in the grounds which featured in a 1995 documentary by Midland film-maker Shane Meadows.
After his death, Gorman's relatives kept the caravan to remind them of the fearless fighter - but thieves have now driven away with it.
Last night, nephew Jerry Gorman, himself a hard-hitting amateur boxer from Hinckley, Leicestershire, has warned the crooks will be cursed by bad luck.
He said: "The thieves are cursed, that caravan will only bring them bad luck.
''I can't believe anyone has done this. It's disgusting.
"Surely they can't realise who they have stolen from and what this means to the traveller community? If they did they would have realised it was the worst mistake of their lives.
""I can't believe another traveller would take it. They know they will be cursed.''
He added: "I don't know what the thieves are going to do with it.
''They can't go around boasting they have got Bartley Gorman's caravan and trying to sell it because the police will be on to them. The only option they have is to return it."
Bartley Gorman stood 6ft 1ins and weighed more than 15 stone in his heyday and his brutal fights took place in bars, showgrounds and, on one occasion, down a mineshaft. Many opponents were felled by his trademark 'bull-hammer' punch - a pulverising blow delivered between the eyes.
Among his victories were wins over infamous London brawlers Lenny McLean and Roy 'Pretty Boy' Shaw.
Bartley retired undefeated in 1992 and died from liver cancer at the age of 57.
But his family say there was much more to the King of the Gypsies than just his fists.
He was even honoured by Uttoxeter when his name was inscribed on its Millennium monument, alongside such illustrious Staffordshire greats as Joseph Bamford, the founder of industrial giant JCB.
Gorman was also great friends with Muhammad Ali and legend has it the two men sparred in secret when the world champion visited Birmingham in 1983. Staffordshire film director Meadows is currently writing a movie screenplay about the life of Bartley.
Meadows, behind hit films Dead Man's Shoes and This Is England, has lined up Hot Fuzz star Paddy Considine for the lead part. ..SUPL: