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fit for a king 37-tonne headstone with solar-powered jukebox erected on Irish bare-knuckle boxing king's grave

The massive headstone is crafted from solid Carrara marble and features a solar-powered jukebox playing Joe Dolan hits


Built of solid white marble and featuring a solar-powered jukebox, Britain’s “largest headstone” has been erected over the grave of the “King of Sheffield”, bare-knuckle boxer, Big Willie Collins. 

One of 16 children, Willie, died at the age of 49 in July 2020 after collapsing on holiday with his family in Majorca.

His sudden death devastated his family and friends, and tributes poured in from people in Sheffield as well as celebrities from across the globe who sent condolence messages to the Collins family.

Boxers such as Tyson Fury, Kell Brook and Billy Joe Saunders sent messages to the family after the shock news of Willy's death.

Hundreds of people lined the streets of the city last August for Big Willy's final farewell, as his body, in a gold-plated coffin, was carried in a white funeral carriage, pulled by six-winged horses with yellow and blue wings.

Now, a 37-tonne headstone featuring a solar-powered jukebox stands at the burial site in Shiregreen Cemetery in Sheffield.

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The 'King of Sheffield', bare-knuckle boxer, Big Willie Collins. 

The 'King of Sheffield', bare-knuckle boxer, Big Willie Collins. 

The 'King of Sheffield', bare-knuckle boxer, Big Willie Collins. 

The huge memorial, which is estimated to have cost at least £200,000, is crafted from solid Carrara marble and features two life-sized statues of Big Willy's six-foot-two frame.

It also features depictions of Jesus Christ and biblical scenes, as well as the solar-powered jukebox playing the late father-of-nine's favourite tracks.

Mourners who visit his final resting place can also connect to the speaker through Bluetooth to play their own songs.

The massive memorial is surrounded by Irish flags and features a statue of the Pieta, with Mary cradling Jesus Christ.

The headstone also features LED lights that can change colour, and is under 24-hour CCTV monitoring, which his large family have access to in order to see and "speak" with him.

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Mr Collins has been immortalised in a lifelike statue at his graveside

Mr Collins has been immortalised in a lifelike statue at his graveside

Mr Collins has been immortalised in a lifelike statue at his graveside

The patriarch of the Collins family doted on his children and grandchildren, and had around 400 nieces and nephews.

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The headstone features the tribute: “My daddy, my best friend, my first love and forever my king”.

Willy, who was born in Ireland, moved to Sheffield in 1980 and grew up in Pitsmoor. He used to train at Brendan Ingle's gym in Wincobank and although he and his wife Kathleen lived in various places, Sheffield was always home with the couple eventually settling in Darnall.

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The incredible solar-powered jukebox with Joe Dolan pride of place

The incredible solar-powered jukebox with Joe Dolan pride of place

The incredible solar-powered jukebox with Joe Dolan pride of place

On his death, Kathleen paid a final tribute to the man she was married to for over 30 years, saying: "I will always remember him. He could be hard work sometimes but he was a lovable rogue and there was nothing he would do or give to his children.

"I will miss him so much and my heart is broken. Sheffield will just never be the same without him."

"He doted on his children," she said. "They were his life and they called him 'big daddy'.

"All the children and grandchildren called him that and he would always ring his nephews up who didn't class him as an uncle - they classed him as a father."

Mary Collins (30) Willy's eldest daughter, said the headstone was a way to "show the world what he meant to us”.

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Mr Collins' family spared no expense

Mr Collins' family spared no expense

Mr Collins' family spared no expense

“Our father was a family man and he means the world to us - he still means the world to us. We've given him everything we've got and he deserves it.

“If you met him once for five minutes you would never forget him.

“We now have somewhere where we can meet and talk about him and for others to remember him.

“He was my best friend. Not a day goes by where we all don't think of him.”

Asked if she was worried that the council would order the removal of the headstone in the future, Mary said: “We don't worry as all the plots taken up, we own.

“We bought all the plots as it's a family grave, so we're not taking over more space than it should be.

“From behind, all of the plots are ours, but when someone dies the head stone starts at the head. We're not worried, and it's well taken care off. We jet wash that road all the time. We have a lot of respect.

“My father's grave is on a hill, so it has to be raised anyway. It's in line with other headstones.'

Mary refused to reveal the price of the headstone, saying that it was against traveller traditions to “brag” about the value of such memorials.

She said: “It was never about a price. It wasn't done as a brag. We've done it for our father and us, and for our grandchildren to remember him, and what a great man he was to us.”

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