Undisputedly, Barry McGuigan 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 British Boxing Board of Control. 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.
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 in 1981. 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 many emotionally charged occasions before a fight.
For almost 20 years now, McGuigan has been commentating and writing on boxing and has developed into one of the leading figures of the sport.
He has been writing a successful weekly column for the Daily Mirror for over 10 years, considered to be the No1 boxing column each week. He has commentated throughout the world; in the USA for Prime Network, in Asia for Star TV, in Europe with Euro Sport and in the UK for BBC, Sky, Screen Sport, Setanta, Wire TV and ITV. He is also President and Founder of the Professional Boxing Association (PBA), an organisation set up to protect the interests and promote education and skills development for professional boxers.
He collaborated with the twice Academy Award nominated film director Jim Sheridan and Academy Award winner Daniel Day Lewis to make the movie ‘The Boxer’ which was inspired by his life. As well as training Day Lewis over a two year period, McGuigan choreographed and edited all the boxing scenes for the Golden Globe nominated movie. His role as a trainer has continued and he has coached his youngest son Shane to National Titles in England and Ireland.
In 2007 Barry won the ITV prime-time show ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ where, under the tutelage of world-renewed chef Marco Pierre White, he discovered his culinary talents and won himself a new generation of fans along the way. He also recently presented a cooking show “The Fabulous Food Adventure” in Northern Ireland with the chef and author Jenny Bristow.
In November 2009 McGuigan launched the inaugural “Barry McGuigan Boxing Academy”. The intention of the academy is to use the skill and discipline required in boxing to promote and deliver an environment where young people can excel in their academic and sporting goals; positively encouraging students who feel disengaged to stay in or return to education and help raise standards in post 16 academic achievement. A great success, it is moving into two further colleges in September 2010 with a number of additional colleges showing a keen interest.
Engaging and intelligent, McGuigan’s heritage and incredible career during the most difficult of circumstances make him a renowned and much sought after speaker.