As his cortege left Birmingham City’ St. Andrews ground, with fans and loved ones setting off flares and waving blue and white balloons, hundreds of mourners turned out for the funeral of much-loved community anti-gang campaigner Barrington 'Baz' Patterson. Boxing legend Frank Bruno was among the guests seen attending the service at St. Philips Cathedral.
Known affectionately as One Eyed Baz, his death, and subsequent funeral, united a city in grief as crowds upon crowds - including a biker gang - turned up to pay tribute to Baz, a former member of Birmingham City's Zulu Warriors hooligan group in his youth.
Dying suddenly from a massive heart attack, the prominent figure received huge rounds of applause as a huge banner reading 'RIP Baz' and bearing a picture of the former gang member was unfurled from the roof of the Birmingham City football stadium.
So many well-wishers wanted to pay their respects to the former MMA fighter and kickboxer that his family issued wristbands to those granted access to the service. Widow Tracey urged people without a pass to not attend the cathedral, saying that they should visit St Andrew's or watch online instead.
A shining example to younger people, after he turned his life around to become a famous actor, mentor and dedicated charity worker, the ex-thug, nicknamed ‘One-Eyed Baz’ - because he was blind in his left eye – was part of Birmingham City's hooligan firm the Zulu Warriors in the 1980s. He went on to star on Danny Dyer's TV show Deadliest Men, with the EastEnders regular calling Barrington one of the most terrifying people he had ever encountered.
He was blinded when he was a child after his sister threw a can at him.
Tributes poured in from the former hooligans as well as from the footballing community following his death. Former Zulu Warrior Tyson Leon, said: “He was a Birmingham legend.
“He lived for his family, he lived for the Blues. He did things no other black bloke had done.” Meanwhile, Birmingham City FC said: “The Club are saddened to learn of the passing of lifelong Bluenose, Barrington Patterson.
“All of our thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time. May you rest in peace, Baz.”
He was 56.