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Boxing promoter and bookmaker Eastwood dies

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‘Great sadness’: Barney Eastwood managed five world champions. Picture: PA

‘Great sadness’: Barney Eastwood managed five world champions. Picture: PA

PA

‘Great sadness’: Barney Eastwood managed five world champions. Picture: PA

Legendary boxing promoter and bookmaker Barney Eastwood has died at the age of 87.

Eastwood, from Holywood, Co Down, died yesterday at the Ulster Hospital near Belfast after an illness. Known to friends and family as 'BJ', Eastwood made his name in the bookmaking business, building up a large chain of shops. In 2008, he sold his 54 shops to Ladbrokes in a deal worth £135m.

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

He was even the subject of a comedy song, 'Thank You Very Very Much, Mr Eastwood', a 1985 single by Dermot Morgan of 'Father Ted' fame.

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."

Eastwood was born in Cookstown and won an All-Ireland medal at minor level with Tyrone in 1948. As well as McGuigan, he managed four other world champion boxers - Dave 'Boy' McAuley, Paul Hodkinson, Crisanto Espana and Victor Cordoba.

Irish Independent