International Boxing Hall of Fame

Barry McGuigan

"The Clones Cyclone"

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Barry McGuigan
Real name Finbar Patrick McGuigan MBE
Nickname(s) the Clones Cyclone
Rated at Featherweight
Nationality Irish
Birth date 28 February 1961 (1961-02-28) (age 47)
Birth place Clones, Ireland
Stance Orthodox
Boxing record
Total fights 35
Wins 32
Wins by KO 26
Losses 3
No contests 0

Finbar Patrick McGuigan MBE, more commonly known as Barry McGuigan (born February 28, 1961 in Clones, County Monaghan, Ireland), nicknamed the Clones Cyclone, is a former professional boxer who became a world Featherweight champion.


McGuigan, who is the son of the late Pat McGuigan, a famous singer in Ireland. He is from Clones, a town in the Republic of Ireland close to the border with Northern Ireland. 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. This fact inspired the Hacienda Brothers' song "If Daddy Don't Sing Danny Boy," written by boxer and musician Chris Gaffney.[1]

During his career, McGuigan fought at a number of venues in both parts of Ireland and in Great Britain. He attracted an enormous and loyal following in the mid-1980s, particularly to the King's Hall in Belfast which he normally packed to the rafters. This, and the media attention that surrounded him, is evidence that not since Rinty Monaghan in the 1940s had the city seen such a popular boxer.[citation needed]

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. A saying was coined: "Leave the fighting to McGuigan" in part because of his insistence on being a non-sectarian. As a non-sectarian sporting ambassador for Northern Ireland,even though he was from Ireland he drew on the experience of George Best and would later be emulated by Eddie Irvine.[citation needed]

Professional career

He started his professional boxing career on May 10, 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 Nigeria's Young Ali on June 14, 1982, McGuigan won by a knockout in six rounds; Ali fell into a coma from which he never recovered, dying six months later in his homeland. 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.

However, he did continue boxing, and in 1983, he won four fights, 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 title. On November 16, 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 five bouts, all by knockout. Among the fighters he beat were former world title challengers Jose Caba and Felipe Orozco. He also beat fringe contender Paul DeVorce 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, he finally got his world title try when the WBA world 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. Already a national hero in Ireland, 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 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. This fight marked the end of McGuigan's extremely short peak as world champion.

For his next defence, he went to Las Vegas in June of 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 before losing to future challenger Jim McDonnell by a technical knockout (cuts) in four rounds. McGuigan then retired permanently from boxing.

His record was 32 wins and 3 losses, with 26 wins by knockout. In January 2005, McGuigan was elected into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Some experts have questioned the level of competition he fought during his career, observing that he did not meet the WBC Champion Azumah Nelson of Ghana, whom noted commentator Jack McGowan of the Belfast Telegraph is convinced McGuigan would not have beaten. However, former great Sir Henry Cooper believes that McGuigan at his peak was one of the best fighters ever to have emerged from Ireland.

After Boxing

McGuigan attempted to establish an association to protect the rights of boxers against what he, and others, considered omnipotent managers and promoters. In this regard, he had had a difficult time during his own career. A very close relationship with his manager deteriorated badly over time and led to a successful libel case against him by his former manager several years later.

In the 1980s he was a chat show host on BBC1.

McGuigan currently lives in London with his wife and children, one of whom (Shane) goes to school at The King's School Canterbury and looks like becoming a professional boxer. Barry McGuigan currently works as a boxing commentator for ITV. He has tried his hand at acting, appearing in the movie Malicious Intent in 2000. He has a band. Two biographies of McGuigan have been written.

More recently, fellow Clones native and boxer Kevin McBride has honoured McGuigan by adopting the nickname The Clones Colossus.

McGuigan appeared in the third series of ITV's Hell's Kitchen in September 2007, where he was eventually crowned the winner after winning the public vote.

McGuigan is the Chairman of the Professional Boxing Association, an organisation he has wanted to set up for over a decade, with the intention of teaching boxers the importance of education, and indeed educating them.

McGuigan and his wife are both active patrons for children's cancer charity CLIC Sargent.

Other Recognition


  • McGuigan earned promotional deals such as a video game named Barry McGuigan Boxing, which won critical acclaim (awarded a "Sizzler!" in Zzap64).
  • In 1986 the Irish comedian Dermot Morgan had a number one chart hit in Ireland with his song Thank you very much Mr Eastwood, sending up the Boxer's habit of thanking his manager profusely after every fight.
  • McGuigan is serving as the coach for the UK team on the show, The Contender Challenge: UK vs. USA.
  • Referenced in a line of the song "Murda" by UK hip-hop artist Klashnekoff
  • Was referenced in Barry McGuigan's Unofficial Mars Bar Chart, run from 1993-1994
Preceded by
Eusebio Pedroza
WBA Featherweight Champion
8 Jun 1985� 23 Jun 1986
Succeeded by
Steve Cruz
Preceded by
Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean
BBC Sports Personality of the Year
Succeeded by
Nigel Mansell