FIGHTING, with or without the gloves, is an integral part of culture within Britain and Ireland's travelling community - reference Tyson Fury, Andy Lee and Billy Joe Saunders of the present era.

Ahead of Fury's risky heavyweight spat with Christian Hammer next weekend, boxing writer Glynn Evans selects and assesses those gypsy scrappers who achieved most inside the prize ring.

10. Georgie Collins

The super-skilled Camberley youngster seemed destined for stardom after triumphing in 77 of 78 amateur starts - losing only (by first round stoppage) to future British champion, glamour model and actor Gary Stretch.

Collins turned pro with Frank Warren as a 17-year-old in 1985 and raced to 35 straight wins. But he was exposed once he landed at top championship level. After back-to-back defeats to Gary Jacobs and Kirkland Laing, he hung up his gloves, aged just 22.

9. Gary Buckland

Despite an Irish twang, teak-tough Buckland (below, right) is actually of Romany stock and lives on a caravan site on Rover Way, Cardiff.

A former national junior champion, he turned pro at 17 and first caught the eye in a gallant May 2010 British and European Lightweight challenge to John Murray.


Dubbed 'The Dynamo' for his Duracell work-rate, Buckland rebounded to capture a Prizefighter trophy (2010) and the British Super-Feather title (2011). Still only 28, he remains active today.

8. 'Gypsy Johnny' Frankham

'Gypsy Johnny' was a Romany-speaking, chain-smoking, hard-drinking, incurable gambler!

He captured the ABA Light-Heavyweight title in 1969, then the British title at the same weight six years later, with a controversial 15 round points win over ex-Olympic champion Chris Finnegan. The following day he bragged that he won several grand on 'pitch 'n' toss!

A colourful personality who generated huge support from within his community, Frankham's reign lasted just four months when he lost a return to Finnegan. A tough, elusive 'show-boater', his accomplishments were achieved with nominal training.

7. Willie Casey

One of 21 children born to a notorious Irish travelling family from Limerick, 'Big Bang's' chaotic southpaw style took him to a Prizefighter trophy and the vacant European title in 2010.

For the latter, Casey routed Dublin's fancied Paul Hyland inside four rounds in his home city of Limerick.

Willie Casey

The victories earned him the 2011 Irish Boxer of the Year Award and elevated him into a shot at the then WBA 'interim' king Guillermo Rigondeaux of Cuba. Despite fighting on home court in Dublin, it proved a bridge too far and he was unceremoniously wasted inside the opening round.

6. Michael Gomez

The 'Moston Mexican' was born in the backseat of a car in Longford, Ireland but raised in a Catholic children's home in Manchester. He left school at 13, was a father and pro fighter at 17, and acquitted of manslaughter at 20.

No surprise then when he became the youngest ever British Super-Feather champion, aged 22, with a September 1999 two round annihilation of Liverpool's Gary Thornhill.

Born Michael Armstrong, his nom-de-guerre came from an obsession with Latin legend Wilfredo Gomez. Regardless that Gomez was actually Puerto Rican (!), the Manc's huge army of fans added colour to the home scene by attending his fights donned in Mexican ponchos and sombreros.

Among the most tenacious and exciting scrappers of his generation, Gomez's fifth round stoppage of Alex Arthur in Edinburgh (2003) stands as one of Britain's most brutal modern ring battles.

5. Billy Joe Saunders

Presently British, Commonwealth and European middleweight champion, plus mandatory champion to the WBO crown, Billy Joe has never lost track of his Romany roots.

Billy Joe Saunders

A distant relative of legendary knuckle fighter Absolom 'Pickles' Beeney, 'Joe' still lives on wheels in a site in Hatfield, Herts. He speaks some Romany and abides by many of the traditions of his heritage; hunting, attending horse fayres, racing horse and carts and, of course, fighting!

A slick and speedy southpaw who is now undefeated in 21 and has vanquished four successive unbeaten opponents - most notably Chris Eubank Jr - the Jimmy Tibbs-trained ex-Olympian has the tools and talent to ultimately become the greatest of his creed.

4. Henry Wharton

Blond, handsome and rugged, the Leeds born, York based Wharton had the misfortune to operate in a Golden Era of British Super-Middleweight talent.

Henry Wharton

Though shy and unassuming beyond the ropes, his home run slugging brought 20 quick wins in 31 pro gigs and made him hugely popular with travellers from all over Britain.

But while hammering Henry was good enough to win Commonwealth, British and European 12 stone titles - scalping the likes of Fidel Castro Smith, Mauro Galvano and Vincinzo Nardiello en route - he wasn't quite good enough to overcome Nigel Benn, Chris Eubank or Robin Reid, who all beat him on points in world title spats during the mid 90s.

Now 47, he has just penned his autobiography; Henry's Dream.

3. Andy Lee

Without ever renouncing his background, the London born, Limerick raised middleweight doesn't flaunt his travelling heritage to the extent others listed here have. Nevertheless, he is a relative of Tyson Fury; their grandmas were sisters.

Like most travelling lads, he laced the gloves early, passing through the heralded Repton ABC nursery as a child and winning several national junior titles.

Andy Lee

'Irish Andy' is certainly well-travelled. In the singlet of Ireland he boxed at the 2004 Athens Olympics then served a stellar pro-apprenticeship under Manny Steward at the Kronk Gym in Detriot.

A crippling puncher, particularly with the right hook, the 6ft 2in southpaw made history last December as the first Anglo-Irish traveller to win a boxing world title, mauling Russia's previously unbeaten Matt Korobov in six rounds over in Las Vegas.

2. Tyson Fury

Son of one-time 'King of the Gypsies' John Fury - an ex-pro and legendary knuckle fighter - the reigning British, Commonwealth and European Heavyweight king claims he fights as much to uphold the family's fighting name as he does for titles and money.

Tyson Fury

Unlike his father, Tyson was raised in relative affluence in the Cheshire countryside and started conventional boxing relatively late. Nevertheless, he proved a natural fighting man, bagging World Junior bronze, European Junior silver and a senior ABA title while still a teenager.

Every bit as proud and plucky as he is gifted, the 6ft 9in giant is also deeply religious - a dichotomy quite at odds with his brash, foul-mouthed public persona.

Unbeaten in 23 with 17 stoppages, he will challenge for a version of the world title this year and, if he wins, he has the charisma to evolve into a huge crossover star.

1. Tony Sibson

Converted southpaw 'Sibbo' was one of the most vicious left hookers these isles have produced. This was never more evident than when he left ex-world middleweight king Alan Minter in a crumpled heap (wrsc3) in their European title tussle at Wembley Arena in 1981.

A semi-literate son of a 'wheeler dealer', he was raised in Leicester with horses in his backyard. Just 5ft 8in tall, his formidable strength was honed carrying the hod at 14 and later working in an abattoir, long before he turned pro on his 18th birthday.

As quick as he was powerful, stocky 'Sibbo' won British, Commonwealth and European titles (twice each) and had three world title cracks - at Marvin Hagler, Dennis Andries and Frank Tate. Alas, he was stopped on each occasion.

Nevertheless, he would almost certainly have won a world title and enjoyed a lengthy reign had he operated in today's fragmented climate.

Honourable mention: Gary Cooper, Tony Collins, Mark Baker, PJ Gallagher, Tony Oakey, Matthew Barney, Tony Doherty, Martin Power, Isaac 'Argie' Ward, John O'Donnell, Martin Ward, Brad Pitt!