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Barney Eastwood: The man who made Irish boxing dreams come true

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Good times: Barney Eastwood celebrates with Barry McGuigan, a boxer he managed in the 1980's

Good times: Barney Eastwood celebrates with Barry McGuigan, a boxer he managed in the 1980's

Good times: Barney Eastwood celebrates with Barry McGuigan, a boxer he managed in the 1980's

The world's leading promoter Bob Arum led the tributes to legendary boxing figure Barney Eastwood who passed away on Monday, aged 87.

Arum, the boss of promotional company Top Rank and former promoter of Muhammad Ali, worked with Barney on title bouts involving Barry McGuigan in the 1980s.

"Barney was a very clever guy and he had good vision. He was instinctively a good promoter and I found him good to work with because he was always a man of his word. If he said something, he did it," said Arum, who came to Belfast in 1986 with American Bernard Taylor who unsuccessfully challenged McGuigan for his WBA World featherweight title.

He added: "When I came for the Taylor fight the Troubles were going on, there were car bombs and I remember being stopped at a checkpoint a mile away from our hotel just outside Holywood. Barney looked after us very well and it was amazing to see at the time everyone coming together for fight night and creating an incredible atmosphere. He could be a stubborn man but I had a lot of time for Barney."

Many of those in the UK and Irish boxing fraternity were eager to pay their respects to the man who at one point had a conveyor belt of champions walking into his Belfast gym in Castle Street.

Veteran coach John Breen, who trained many of his champions in the late 1980s and early 1990s, said: "He made the dreams of boxers come true. He was an incredible man."

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