It’s 30 years since the boxer who became known as the ‘Clones Cyclone’ fought in Ferrybank.
On January 11th, 1980, The Munster Express trumpeted ‘Barry McGuigan for Waterford’, our correspondent ‘Ringside’ reporting how the 19-year-old British Commonwealth and Mini-European gold medal winner from Smithboro A.B.C., Monaghan, was to take on the vastly experienced Paddy O’Reilly of Ferrybank B.C. at the Shanty Lounge Bar, Smartscastle, that Friday night.
A former Waterford Glass blower, “O’Reilly boxed McGuigan last year in Monaghan and the gold medal winner promised the Ferrybank man if ever they were putting on a show that he would travel to box if needed”, the preview explained.
Admission was £2, with the bantamweight bout billed as “a great chance for boxing fans to see one of Ireland’s best prospects of winning gold in the 1980 Olympics in Russia [as captain of the Republic team]. McGuigan won a Commonwealth gold medal in Edmonton, Canada, in 1978; four months later he then went to the 7th International Tournament in Holland (better known as the Mini-Europeans) and took on the best in Europe to score a unanimous decision verdict and take his second gold medal.”
Having beaten his pal Patsy – or “Footer” to his friends (they were first matched together in the ’78 Irish Senior Championships) – McGuigan, whose real name is Finbar, turned pro in May of the following year and won 32 of his 35 fights, including, of course, the WBA world featherweight title in 1985, becoming the first person not born in the UK to collect the BBC Sports Personality Award.
McGuigan, founding chairman of the Professional Boxing Association, regards Ricky Hatton’s intended comeback (once he sheds several stone) as seriously “ill-advised”, observing that “Hatton has also been world class at abusing his body outside the ring.
“Ricky might say, ‘Who does he think he is to judge me?’ But I’m 48 years old and I’ve been through what he has at the very highest level and seen tragedies in the ring and guys damaged there, and sometimes fighters have to be protected from themselves.”