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Speedway legend to get freedom of city

PUBLISHED: 07:30 21 July 2006 | UPDATED: 11:16 22 October 2010

LEGEND: Ove Fundin

LEGEND: Ove Fundin

LORNA MARSH

Fifty years ago he was hailed in Norfolk as a hero - bringing back the world speedway title to Norwich for the first time. Now the legendary Ove Fundin is set to return to the city a freeman after moves to honour his contribution to its sporting heritage.

Fifty years ago he was hailed in Norfolk as a hero - bringing back the world speedway title to Norwich for the first time.

Now the legendary Ove Fundin is set to return to the city a freeman after moves to honour his contribution to its sporting heritage.

Next Tuesday councillors will discuss plans to give Fundin, known as the Flying Fox in his heyday, the freedom of the city.

But Roy Blower, the councillor who put forward the proposal, said the meeting will effectively be a rubber-stamping exercise.

Mr Blower said the move came about after discussions with Roy Waller, of Radio Norfolk, and Derek James, of the EDP's sister paper the Evening News.

"I was amazed when I found out he had not been honoured like this before and said I would make sure it happened," he said.

"If you look at Ove's achievements in terms of football they are far greater than what we achieved as a championship team. During two attempts at the world title he had to get off crutches before getting on the bike and bearing in mind it had no brakes, just a throttle while he used his legs to stop it, the courage was just unbelievable.

"Even now he is still an unofficial ambassador for the city of Norwich. I am privileged and proud to be able to do this, people talk of legends but he was an icon, this is fundamentally deserved."

Fundin was five times speedway world champion and is still seen by many as the greatest sportsman the city has had.

He was just 23 when he travelled to Wembley in London in 1956 for his third crack at the sport's most prestigious prize and took with him about 4,000 Norfolk fans to witness his moment of glory.

He took the title another four times but it was his first success, that he held most dear.

The Swede rode for the Norwich Stars at the Firs stadium for nine years from 1955 to 1964 and still regards the city as a home from home - returning annually for a veterans' dinner and holding many fond memories of his time in the county where his eldest son was born.

Speaking from his home in the French Riviera, Fundin, known around the world for his contribution to the sport in Norwich, said: "It is a great honour, really fantastic. I am deeply proud and very happy."

A housing estate now stands where once 12,000 watched the Fox and his team mates take on the best in the country with only the Firs pub as a reminder.

But Mr Blower now plans a glorious return for him as a freeman to finally give him the recognition he is due.

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