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Celebrating Barry McGuigan and Irish featherweights

Yesterday I had to pick up a prescription from a pharmacy in Hove. The chief pharmacist is a friendly Irishman called Paddy. He is a short fellow and I was surprised to learn was once the All Ireland featherweight  champion.  Conversation turned to Barry McGuigan ( “The Clones Cyclone”) who 30 years ago to the day beat Eusebio Pedroza to win the featherweight title in the last 15 round championship contest. I was there, invited to a box by a couple of friends, ex-boxers, who were in the meat trade. I remember it vividly and the value of having friends present who understood the fight game. At one point McGuigan pressed forward, we were all on our feet but  my two friends remained seated and one said quietly “No son, go carefully, don’t get excited by the crowd”. The fight was at Loftus Road stadium, the home of QPR, and had a huge Irish audience including George Best, Mary Peters and Dennis Taylor.

A few years later I met Barry at a party. I did some thing which you do only once with Barry, I shook his hand.  To describe his handshake as vice-like is an understatement. I could feel the life going out of my fingers and blood flow from my veins. Over the years I met him again, my hands were kept firmly behind my back and I let others suffer. Paddy explained he had huge hands and the reach of a heavyweight.

Barry manages the Irish featherweight Carl Frampton, unbeaten in 20 fights, also under the banner of Al Hayman who advises Floyd Mayweather. Hayman has an interesting business model. The music impresario buys time on the terrestrial stations like CBS and shows his fights on Saturday afternoon. There is no MC and no reference to any body like the WBA. The proliferation of titles and satellite coverage have done much to reduce the popularity and esteem of boxing.

It was such a enjoyable chat and I mused on it as I walked to the bus stop. An assistant came running after  me “Mr Conway, you left your medication “

Finally a word about Sussex  cricket. As with last season when we started well with 3 wins, this season after 2 initial victories we lost to Hampshire this week rather too easily. Captain Ed Joyce has blamed a catalogue  of injuries in the pace department  as we cannot call on Mills, Shahzad, Anyon and Hatchett. This does not explain the batting fragility nor that Magoffin has taken over 20’wickets and Ollie Robinson has  stepped up to the plate. It’s a worrying time for the Martlets  and in the 20/20 the Sharks are no more convincing. On Sunday the Sharks pay Surrey in the lovely surroundings of Arundel castle. With Pietersen playing a large crowd is anticipated and we need a win to get our season back on track.

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About Ivan Conway

Ivan Conway will be reporting on Sussex sport. He is a member of the 1901 club at Brighton HAFC, Sussex County Cricket Club and an enthusiastic horse race goer. After selling his freight forwarding and conference business he settled in Hove. His other interests are bird watching, brass rubbing and bridge. More Posts