HENRY COOPER was a knockout attraction wherever he went - and he made heads turn the day he visited Hillingdon Hospital in 1978.

Britain’s best-loved boxer had long since hung up his gloves but still drew a large crowd when he officially opened Hospital Radio Hillingdon’s new studios.

Cooper had the country on its feet years earlier when he nearly beat future heavyweight champion of the world Cassius Clay in a thrilling fight at Wembley.

Clay, who would later change his name to Muhammad Ali, was caught by a thunderous left hook, which sports writers called ‘Enry’s ‘Ammer.’

Cooper may have been a small heavyweight, compared to Clay, but he didn’t take kindly to being called ‘a bum’ or Clay imperiously entering the ring wearing a crown.

The Londoner attacked from the bell and, in the fourth round, his fearsome left hook found its target, leaving Clay slumped on the bottom rope.

Clay was saved by the bell but would recall many years later that Cooper hit him so hard ‘that his ancestors in Africa felt it’.

What followed was one of the most controversial episodes in British boxing history as a shaken Clay was illegally helped back to his corner while Cooper glowered menacingly from the opposite side of the ring.

His team tried to revive him with banned smelling salts before cutting his glove open and demanding it be replaced before the fight continued.

It gave Clay vital time to recover and he won the fight with a technical knockout in the following round.

Cooper went on to fight another day in a career which saw him win the British, Commonwealth and European heavyweight titles.

He twice won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year, was a long standing team captain on A Question of Sport, as well as featuring in several TV adverts including ‘get your jab in first’, encouraging older people to have their flu vaccination.

Henry Cooper died in 2000, shortly after the deaths of his beloved wife and twin brother.

One of the most poignant tributes came from TV presenter Michael Parkinson who said: “He was the best kind of athlete, the best kind of boxer. He wasn’t boastful, he was genuinely modest and a gentleman.

“I think of him in the same way as I do Bobby Charlton - the two of them represent something which I think has gone out of sport rather, that kind of hero.”

Henry Cooper may have retired to the great ring in the sky, but the radio station is still going strong 35 years later and was recently voted the third most listened to hospital station in the UK.