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The twelfth and final of our Irish Sporting Legends is Barry McGuigan.
Finbar Patrick McGuigan MBE (born 28 February 1961), nicknamed The Clones Cyclone, is a retired Irish professional boxer from Clones, County Monaghan, Ireland who became a World Boxing Association featherweight champion. Barry was a fan favourite for British and Irish audiences, as he represented neutrality and peace in a time when Northern Ireland (where he lived) was divided as part of The Troubles. He founded, and is the current President of, the Professional Boxing Association (PBA).
Barry McGuigan was born in Clones, County Monaghan, Ireland. His father was singer Pat McGuigan (died 1987). He represented Northern Ireland in the Commonwealth Games at Edmonton 1978 and represented Ireland at the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. Pat McGuigan sang “Danny Boy” before several of his son’s matches.
During his career, McGuigan fought at a number of venues in Ireland and Britain. He attracted an enormous following in the mid-1980s, particularly to the King’s Hall in Belfast which he normally filled to capacity. As a non-sectarian sporting ambassador for Northern Ireland, he drew on the experience of George Best and would later be emulated by Eddie Irvine.
McGuigan was inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame and International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2005. He also fought in Ring Magazine’s 1986 Fight of the Year, and was a title character in the 8-bit computer game, Barry McGuigan World Championship Boxing. In 1985 he was voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
He was honoured in an Irish ballad song released in 1984, “Clones Cyclone”, written by Johnny McCauley and sung by Big Tom. The popular German musician and composer Udo Lindenberg also dedicated his song “Jonny Boxer” to McGuigan in 1986.