Undisputedly, Barry McGuigan - After dinner speaker, motivational speaker and awards host - was one of the best boxers of his generation. As an amateur he won a multitude of titles, at the tender age of 17 he took the gold medal at the 1978 Commonwealth Games and as a Professional he won the British, European and World Titles. On a memorable, balmy night in June 1985, a television audience of twenty million watched as McGuigan achieved his dream and became Featherweight Champion of the World by defeating Eusebio Pedroza, voted ‘Fight of the Year’ by Ring magazine. His amazing performance later captured him another title of BBC Sports Personality of the Year. McGuigan was voted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 2000 and the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2005.
Background and career
McGuigan’s popularity transcended the sport of boxing and his fights became family occasions, uniting people across sectarian and religious divides during a troubled time in the country’s political history. A Catholic, Barry married his Protestant childhood sweetheart, Sandra Mealiff. An Irishman, he fought for the British Title, his boxing shorts the colours of the United Nation’s Flag of Peace and rather than an anthem his father sang ‘Danny Boy’ on emotionally charged occasions before a fight.