Willy Collins Sheffield: Council seeking 'agreement' over 37-ton headstone to bare-knuckle boxer

A Yorkshire council has said it is seeking an 'agreement' with the family of a bare-knuckle boxer over his controversial headstone.

The grave of 'Big' Willy Collins was unveiled at Shiregreen Cemetery in Sheffield more than a month ago - however the council has said it breaches guidelines and isn't what was agreed in advance.

The 37-ton mausoleum to the father-of-nine is more than six foot high and was crafted from white Carrara marble. It also features a jukebox.

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But five weeks on, Sheffield Council says it is still writing to Mr Collins' family in an attempt to come to an agreement over the issue.

Willy Collins' memorial in Sheffield

Will the council take down Willy Collins’ headstone in Sheffield?

Tempers have flared since the council stated the plans it approved for the headstone were not what was built at the grave.

On March 23, Councillor Alison Teal said “the plans which were submitted and approved differ from the memorial now in place” and the council was “reaching out” to Mr Collins’ family.

However, the statement was coldly received by the family.

Addressing both the council’s statement and criticisms of the headstone posted online, Willy’s wife, Kathleen Collins, said there would be “war” if the memorial was damaged or taken down.

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Speaking to the MailOnline on March 26, Ms Collins said: “The council have raised concerns because members of the public have been hounding them to complain about it. There's a lot of racism and jealousy involved because Willy was a famous traveller who was known all over Sheffield.

“People are threatening to pull the monument down or damage it, while the council is saying we may have to change it, but if that happens, there's going to be war.”

It is now one month since these statements.

The Star contacted the council to ask if any action was being considered and if instructions or a deadline had been given to the Collins family. It was also asked if the council had the means to take action on its own if an agreement is not reached.

Lisa Firth, director of culture, parks and leisure, said: “The council has written to the family in order to discuss this matter.

“We hope we can come to an agreement with Mr Collins' loved ones about how we move forward with this situation soon.”

Who was Willy Collins?

‘Big Willy’ Collins died in July 2020 after collapsing while on holiday with his family in Port de Pollença in Majorca. He was 49.

His headstone was unveiled at Shiregreen Cemetery on March 17 in the form of a 37-ton monument standing over 6ft tall.

Features include a Bluetooth jukebox, two life-size statues of the patriarch, four flagpoles and CCTV camera security.

Photos of the controversial monument have made international headlines.

Will the council pull down Willy Collins’ headstone?

Council guidelines state a memorial should be less than 75mm thick and no taller than 1.35m tall.

The council states Mr Collins’ memorial is not in keeping with the designs it granted planning permission for.

However, visitors to the headstone have remarked to The Star that other graves around the site in Shiregreen Cemetery are also elaborate and appear to breach these guidelines.

The area for gravestones are sold in plots by the council. Buyers are permitted to build across several plots if paid for.