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Barry McGuigan's ex-manager Barney Eastwood dies aged 87

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Barney Eastwood managed boxer Barry McGuigan

Barney Eastwood managed boxer Barry McGuigan

PA

Barney Eastwood managed boxer Barry McGuigan

Barry McGuigan's former manager Barney Eastwood has died aged 87.

Eastwood, a promoter and bookmaker from Holywood, Co Down, died yesterday after a period of illness.

Known as BJ, Eastwood made his name in the bookmaking business, building up a chain of shops across Northern Ireland. In 2008, he sold his 54 shops to Ladbrokes in a deal worth £135m (€154m).

Despite his success in bookmaking, Eastwood was best known as a boxing promoter and manager, particularly his association with world champion Barry McGuigan but, after years of success together, Eastwood's relationship with the Clones Cyclone soured, culminating in an acrimonious legal dispute.

A spokesman for the family said: "BJ's passing has brought great sadness to the family as well as the whole community in Holywood, where he was a very visible resident for the past 50 years. All who knew him will miss his remarkable charm."

Eastwood was born in Cookstown, Co Tyrone, on March 26, 1932. The teenaged Eastwood was a talented Gaelic footballer and won an All-Ireland medal at minor level with Tyrone in 1948, something his family said he considered his most cherished achievement.

His passion for boxing was ignited after watching organised fights at the US air force base near Ardboe, Co Tyrone, during World War II.

Victory

He promoted boxing shows in the 1960s and, after a break from the sport, returned in the 1980s as McGuigan's manager.

McGuigan's most famous victory, over WBA world featherweight champion Eusebio Pedroza at Loftus Road in London in June 1985, was watched by a UK TV audience of 19 million.

The men's friendship ended amid a legal battle following McGuigan's world title defeat to Steve Cruz in Las Vegas in 1986. Eastwood won a long-running libel action in 1992.

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Barry McGuigan

Barry McGuigan

Barry McGuigan

Despite their falling out, McGuigan yesterday said he was "saddened to hear of the passing of Barney Eastwood".

"He was a big character who really knew his boxing," he said on Twitter.

"We achieved great things together and shared some amazing times. My deepest sympathies to his wife Frances and his family at this difficult time."

As well as McGuigan, he managed four other world champion boxers, Dave 'Boy' McAuley, Paul Hodkinson, Crisanto Espana and Victor Cordoba.