Belfast Telegraph

Our greatest sports star: McAuley was as brave as a lion

To celebrate the 20th Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards, sponsored by Linwoods, and taking place on January 26, 2015, we want YOU to decide Northern Ireland’s greatest sports star ever. In alphabetical order, and continuing daily, we assesses the 20 legends shortlisted by a judging panel. Voting details below

In 1989 Larne's Dave 'Boy' McAuley defied the odds to take the IBF World flyweight title, beating Duke McKenzie at Wembley Arena. Few had given McAuley a prayer, but in a highly accomplished performance he destroyed his opponent.

It was the culmination of a dream for Dave, who had been battered and bruised throughout an eventful career, without the glory of a world title belt.

All that changed 25 years ago on a memorable evening in London when his determination, hard work in the gym and spirit was rewarded when he finally got his hands on what he had craved ever since becoming a boxer.

As brave as a lion, and with the confidence gained from his world champion success, McAuley became an even better boxer, defending his crown six times - a Northern Ireland record.

A big favourite in his home town, what set Dave apart from many fighters was that he always provided entertainment.

Yet for all that, very often this particular fighter is not given the credit he deserves.

Now 53, McAuley had a fierce left hook and a never say die attitude in the ring, perfectly illustrated by his two brutal encounters in Belfast with Colombian Fidel Bassa, which were both voted 'Fight of the Year' in the late 80s.

The contests were wars and are still talked about by boxing fans here today when they discuss the greatest fights they have ever seen. The first match-up with Bassa was arguably the best battle inside a King's Hall ring.

These days Dave keeps himself busy by running the Halfway House hotel on the Antrim Coast.

His contribution to Ulster sport should not be forgotten - he was one of our boxing greats.

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