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Thursday 21 November 2019

'Saying goodbye to Nika was so very difficult', says dad Barry

Boxing legend Barry McGuigan thanked those who have sent messages of support after the death of his daughter Danika
Boxing legend Barry McGuigan thanked those who have sent messages of support after the death of his daughter Danika

Boxing legend Barry McGuigan has thanked the thousands of people who sent his family messages of support after the tragic death of his daughter Danika last week.

The retired featherweight world champion (58), from Clones, Co Monaghan, said saying goodbye to his 33-year-old daughter 'Nika' was "the most difficult thing I ever had to do".

Describing her as "a shining light in our families' lives for the past 33 years", he took to social media to pay tribute to his daughter - and all those who have rallied around him and his family as they come to terms with the young actress's death from cancer.

"Nika was an extremely talented and inspirational young lady who radiated kindness and love," he wrote.

"Our hearts are broken and we know that life will never be the same again for us. However, Nika lives on in so many parts of our lives, which we are grateful for.

"I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all the people who sent flowers, cards, mass cards, Instagram messages, Facebook, Twitter, texts and email messages of condolences and support.

"There are simply too many to answer individually, so I want to use this opportunity to say a huge thank you to each and every one of you, the family greatly appreciate them."

McGuigan and his wife, Sandra, have three other children, Shane, Jake and Blain.

Singer Brian Kennedy, a close friend of the family and himself a cancer survivor, sang at Danika's funeral on Sunday in Canterbury, Kent, where the McGuigan family live.

The Belfast singer (52), sang Van Morrison's Crazy Love, which was one of Danika's favourite songs.

In an interview with the Sunday World, Kennedy recalled the first time he met the young actress when he was invited to the McGuigan home for a Sunday lunch in 1991.

He had been performing at a Fleadh at London's Finsbury Park where Barry McGuigan and the singer swapped phone numbers.

When he had lunch with the family a couple of weeks later, he recalled meeting Danika, who was wearing her father's boxing gloves.

"With the size of her, they were bigger than her head," he said.

Fighter

"There she was having a pretend boxing match. It was really funny. It's just an arresting image of what a fighter she had to be in life growing up, facing into cancer twice.

"Unfortunately, the second time, it got her."

Danika had been diagnosed with acute lymphoid leukaemia when she was just 11 but recovered following two years of gruelling chemotherapy.

In an interview in 2005, the boxer said the diagnosis was "like being hit with a sledgehammer".

"But Nika was incredibly strong and positive. God, did she fight. I was so proud of her."

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