- Category : Boxer
- Type : GE
- Profile : 5/1 - Heretical / Investigator
- Definition : Split - Small (41)
- Incarnation Cross : LAX Migration 1
Finbarr Patrick McGuigan MBE (born 28 February 1961), known as Barry McGuigan and nicknamed The Clones Cyclone, is a former Irish professional boxer who became a World Boxing Association featherweight champion.
McGuigan was born in Clones, Ireland, son of singer Pat McGuigan. 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 fights. Ths fact inspired the Hacienda Brothers' song "If Daddy Don't Sing Danny Boy", written by boxer and musician Chris Gaffney.
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. McGuigan is a Roman Catholic, and at a time when Roman Catholics and Protestants were clashing during The Troubles in Northern Ireland, McGuigan married a Protestant woman, Sandra, and they have been married for 28 years. McGuigan has commented on the support he got from both Protestant and Catholic in Ireland that it was because:
"the shadows ran deep. And my fights felt a little like sunshine. Both sides would say: 'Leave the fighting to McGuigan.' You see, it was also entertainment – people loved to forget the Troubles a while. The fact that I wouldn't wear green, white and gold or put on a sign that said this is who I represent was powerful. It was a very mature and dangerous thing to do. I wouldn't choose sides. People appreciated that."
As a non-sectarian sporting ambassador for Northern Ireland, even though he was from the Republic of Ireland, he drew on the experience of George Best and would later be emulated by Eddie Irvine. He and his wife are both active patrons for children's cancer charity CLIC Sargent.
McGuigan took out British citizenship so that he could compete for British domestic titles.
McGuigan started his juvenile boxing career at the Wattlebridge Amateur Boxing Club, County Fermanagh and later moved to the Smithborough Amateur Boxing Club, County Monaghan. Under the guidance of trainers Danny McEntee and Frank Mulligan he rapidly established himself as an exceptional boxer. He won the All Ireland Amateur Championship in 1976 having defeated Martin Brereton. Notable opponents during his teenage years included dubliner James Coughlan who he defeated by tko at the age of 15, Eric Clarke of South East London and Gordon McNeil of Newcastle upon Tyne. All had similar records with McNeil fighting out of what was the Kenton gym, North Benwell Sports & Boxing Club; beaten on points, with a tally of 23 fights, 22 wins, 19 by way of k.o.
He started his professional boxing career on 10 May 1981, beating Selwyn Bell by a knockout in two rounds in Dublin. After another win, he suffered his first setback, losing a hotly disputed decision (which had him in tears) to Peter Eubanks (brother of Chris Eubank) over eight rounds at Wembley, England.
After his first loss, McGuigan notched up two more wins, including one over Terry Pizzarro, and then he was given a rematch with Eubanks. The second time around, McGuigan prevailed, by a knockout in the eighth round.
In 1982, McGuigan won eight fights, seven by knockout. One of these, however, almost destroyed his career and his life. Opposed by Young Ali, on 14 June 1982, McGuigan won by a knockout in six rounds; Ali fell into a coma from which he never recovered. According to the book The Ring: Boxing The 20th Century, this affected McGuigan so much that he wasn't sure he wanted to keep on boxing. He also defeated Paul Huggins and Angelo Licata during this period. In 1983, he won four fights,winning the British Title against Vernon Penprase, and including his first trip to fight outside Europe (when he beat Samuel Meck by a knockout in six in Ontario, Canada), before getting his first try at a European title. On 16 November, Italy's Valerio Nati defended his European Featherweight belt versus McGuigan in Belfast, and McGuigan won the crown with a knockout in the sixth round. He then became the number one Featherweight challenger in the World Boxing Association. In 1984, he won six bouts, all by knockout. Among the fighters he beat were former world title challengers Jose Caba and Felipe Orozco. He also beat contenders Paul DeVorce and Charm Chiteule and retained his British and European titles against Clyde Ruan and the latter belt against Esteban Eguia to keep his chance at a World Championship attempt alive.
In 1985, McGuigan met former world featherweight champion Juan Laporte and won by a decision after ten rounds. Following one more win (a defence of his European Title against Farid Gallouze), he finally got his world title try when the long reigning WBA featherweight champion, Eusebio Pedroza of Panama, came to London to put his title on the line at Loftus Road football stadium. McGuigan became the champion by dropping Pedroza in round seven and winning a unanimous fifteen-round decision in a fight refereed by hall of fame referee Stanley Christodoulou. McGuigan and his wife were feted in a public reception through the streets of Belfast that attracted several hundred thousand spectators. Later that year, he was named BBC Sports Personality of the Year, becoming the first person not born in the United Kingdom to win the award.
McGuigan made his first defence against American Bernard Taylor, who was stopped in the ninth round, and then against Danilo Cabrera, who got knocked out in fourteen rounds. This proved to be a controversial stoppage: The fight was stopped after the challenger bent over to pick up his mouthpiece after losing it, a practice that is allowed in many countries but not in Ireland. Cabrera was not aware of this, and the fight was stopped. Although Cabrera's corner protested the outcome, McGuigan remained the winner by a knockout.
For his next defence, he went to Las Vegas in June 1986, where he faced the relatively unknown Stevie Cruz from Texas in what proved a gruelling fifteen-round title bout under a blazing sun. McGuigan held a lead halfway through, but suffered dehydration because of the extreme heat and wilted near the end, being dropped in rounds ten and fifteen. He eventually lost a close decision and his world belt, which he was never to reclaim. After the fight, McGuigan required hospitalisation because of his dehydrated state.
After that fight he retired, partly due to the death of his father in 1987. He used to say his father was his greatest inspiration and, after his death, apparently felt no reason to continue boxing. However, he returned to the ring between 1988 and 1989, beating former world title challengers Nicky Perez and Francisco Tomas Da Cruz as well as contender Julio Cesar Miranda before losing to former EBU featherweight champ and future WBC and WBA super featherweight challenger Jim McDonnell by a technical knockout when a McDonnel left hook opened gash over McGuigan's right eye in 2nd round that caused the referee to stop the fight in the 4th. McGuigan then retired permanently from boxing. His record was 32 wins and 3 losses, with 28 wins by knockout. In January 2005, McGuigan was elected into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.