Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 July 2014

Barry's passion still burns as the family business flourishes

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 16: Barry Hearn the promoter of Paul McCloskey argues with Oscar de la Hoya after the WBA Light-Welterweight Championship fight between Amir Khan and Paul McCloskey at MEN Arena on April 16, 2011 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Barry Hearn is a happy man. Before I an even ask the first question he explodes with his innate enthusiasm, "David, we've just sold out Froch-Kessler in two and a half hours, 18,000 tickets. If it was Michael Buble we'd be putting on more dates but it's boxing and you get one shot, that's what makes it exciting."

Persuading the public to part with their cash for a night's entertainment has been his business for over 30 years and in the space of 48 hours at the Odyssey Arena the Matchroom Promotions supremo will have hosted 15,000, starting tonight with his Premier League darts and then topped off on Saturday with Carl Frampton's challenge to European champion Kiko Martinez.

Hearn, 64, was the man who revolutionised snooker in the early 1980s when close friend Steve Davis was at his peak after the sport went into slump, three years ago he took over the running of snooker in the same way that he rules the PDC darts which has become a jewel in his sporting crown.

Add in pool, poker, fishing, boxing and table tennis and it adds up to high percentage of Sky Sports total output.

"We do 2,000 hrs of output for Sky which is about six per cent and around the world 40,000 hours which goes into 100 countries. Once the Premier League is out of the way the TV executives then say right how are we going to fill all the hours so they come and talk to Barry Hearn," he explained.

"We're a very profitable private company and it's a family business, Eddie is there and Katie my daughter is the Director of Programming.

"But they had to prove themselves, Katie spent six years at Sky before we said 'yes you're ready to come on board' and Eddie ran the poker and the golf and was doing a very good job but then he came and said 'Dad what I really want to get my teeth into is boxing'

"His mother went mad, she said 'no way, you know what it did to you Barry' but I told him the problems, it's the most frustrating sport I've ever been involved with and decided to go for it and he's doing it better than I ever did.

"For me the biggest success of my life is my family.

"Eddie has been around boxing since I was 12, he knew Eubank, Benn and when I look at Eddie I see myself... I have no fear of dying because I'll always be there just in a different form."

Hearn's passion for his business and for the sports he is involved with is undiminished. Noted for his thudding embrace of Davis when he won the 1980 World title, he could be seen giving superstar Oscar De La Hoya an earful after the controversial stoppage involving Amir Khan and Paul McCloskey in 2011.

He added: "My nature is that everything I do I do it with 100 per cent enthusiasm and I know that I can out-graft anyone.

"I was always happy with 16-hour days and not many people can keep up with me which I like because it gives me an edge.

"The other week I spent two days in Dubai, two in Sydney, two in Hong Kong and then a day in Dubai and then home. I can't see many 64-year-olds doing that."

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