Bolton has always been a hotbed for boxing talent and Peter Freeman is proud to be included in the local history books.

In recent times, Amir Khan has represented the town, first in the Olympics and then on the global stage as a unified world champion.

And champion trainer Joe Gallagher still has his base in the town, nurturing talent to regular world title fights.

But before all that was the success of Horwich's Freeman, who progressed from being an amateur champion.

He became the town’s first Central Area Champion in 1976, beating Roger Tighe by knockout in Bradford.

Tighe was a tough opponent, having won a number of titles throughout his career and even captaining his country at the 1966 Commonwealth Games in Jamaica.

“The guy came with a top reputation to be honest,” Freeman recalled. “I think he was just past his prime, but one day in time he was a top-notch boxer.”

That victory saw the Bolton-born fighter move near the top of the rankings for a shot at the British Title.

While he didn’t quite get there in the end, Freeman shared the ring with some of the best talents of his era during a memorable career.

Now living on the other side of the Pennines in Leeds, where he has been for more than two decades, he took great pride in representing his hometown and believes the level of talent that has come from the area does not always get enough recognition.

“It has been a bit of an up and down boxing career for me in a way,” he added. “I have fought and met all the top guys in the world – the Fraziers, the Foremans, the Alis.

“I am the only Bolton lad who has won that kind of fight and the only Bolton lad who has got to the heavyweight eliminators. Once upon a time, I was third or fourth in line for the British title.

“I think Bolton should understand what it has got, not just me but there is a wealth of talent that has just not been recognised.”

One of Freeman’s most famous bouts was against Joe Spinks, with the winner going on to face the legendary Muhammad Ali.

He also sparred with Joe Bugner, a former British and European Heavyweight champion who came up against Ali on two separate occasions.

The Boltonian, who received a degree in education after hanging up his gloves, says there are some formidable fighters in the current heavyweight landscape but admits the sport has not progressed in the way he expected.

“There are two or three fighters - and they are good lads, don’t get me wrong – but that’s it and they box between themselves,” he explained.

“When I was boxing, there were lads who always wanted to fight. You could go to a weekend show and then go again the weekend after. You can’t do that now, it is not as forthright as I thought boxing would get.

“I am sure there are a lot of kids who would love it because they don’t do it at school anymore. They used to when I was a kid.

“We would box with the big gloves on and it didn’t hurt. It was like getting hit with a pillow! But now I don’t think anything like that has carried forward.”