Boxing: Laing critical after fall from balcony

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The Independent Online

Kirkland Laing, the former British and European welterweight champion, is in a critical but stable condition in a hospital near his home in Hackney after falling from a fourth-floor balcony late on Tuesday night.

Laing, 49, won the British welterweight title in 1979 when he stopped Henry Rhiney in 10 rounds, and again in 1987 when he stopped fellow Hackney boxer Sylvester Mittee in five hard rounds. In 1990 he won the European welterweight title at Wembley live on television but lost it the same year in Italy.

Laing's greatest night was in 1982 in Detroit when he beat Roberto Duran over 10 rounds. It looked as if Laing would fulfil his potential and boost his earnings but he vanished for over a year, during which Duran made more than £3m when he won the world light-middleweight title and then fought 15 rounds with Marvin Hagler.

"I think too many people take kindness for weakness and I never really made that much money, and what I did make I spent," Laing told the BBC two months ago. The interview is part of a forthcoming film about the boxer's life.

Since his last fight in 1994, Laing has lived in the Hackney council flat that was his home for most of his career, and he became a local character. Last year he was taken into custody but not charged after a police raid on a crack house, and he is known for drinking. "Perhaps I just like to party too much," Laing told the BBC.