As Wayne McCullough celebrated his 1995 World bantamweight title success in Japan, an eight-year-old 6,000 miles away in Belfast was turning on the television to see if he had indeed pulled off one of the finest ever victories by a Northern Ireland boxer. Carl Frampton would enjoy his own crowning moment 14 years later on the Titanic slipway.
The BBC on-screen Ceefax service was the medium for Frampton to discover that the man whom he idolised at the time had defeated the home town Nagoya favourite Yasuei Yakushiji to become the WBC champion after 12 hard rounds, decided on a split decision.
"Wayne was always an inspiration for me," Frampton would later comment.
McCullough, who turns 50 today, was not only a hero to the Jackal as he made his ring journey through the amateur ranks and into the professional business, but also to many others of the same generation and those before. The Pocket Rocket's CV is the envy of many - glorious amateur success followed by a professional career in which he dined at the top table for some time is one that has rarely been repeated.
The Shankill Road warrior fought the best around at bantam, super-bantam and featherweight - often coming up short on the scorecards but only after almighty efforts that drew many kudos, while also enjoying stand-out victories over Yakushiji and Mexicans Jose Luis Bueno and Victor Rabanales. His iron-coated chin and perpetual motion fuelled by limitless stamina drew great admiration.
The legacy of McCullough is seen in the Belfast men who consequently believed they could achieve similar heights as amateurs and professionals in the years that followed his 1992 Olympic silver medal winning performance in Barcelona and, three years later, the joy in Japan.
Stephen Kirk, Brian Magee and Damaen Kelly, to name a few, had seen the little man rise to the world stage as an amateur - along with '92 gold medal winning team-mate Michael Carruth - giving evidence of what could be achieved and in the 1990s they also would shine in the Irish vest and eventually the golden generation of Paddy Barnes, Michael Conlan, Kenny Egan and Katie Taylor would take the medal haul to a new level.
Having represented Ireland at the 1988 Olympics, McCullough struck gold at the Commonwealth Games in Auckland before arriving in Barcelona and going through the pain barrier of a fractured cheekbone to make it to the bantamweight final and consequently securing a silver medal after a series of pulsating performances.
McCullough and gold medallist Carruth combined to make it a special Games for those in the Irish vest. Next stop the professional ranks and, despite interest from legendary manager Barney Eastwood, the Pocket Rocket chose to go Stateside with wealthy businessman Mat Tinley, while he would be coached by the late, great Eddie Futch and his impressive sidekick Thell Torrance.
While McCullough would become world champion and find himself in many world title opportunities, there are some who felt not linking up with Eastwood - who at the time had a conveyor belt of champions - ultimately cost him greater joy from such a hard professional career spanning 15 years.
A world title was the only thing on his mind when he landed in America, his home with wife Cheryl and daughter Wynona ever since turning professional. As he approached the meeting with WBC champion Yasuei Yakushiji in Nagoya, McCullough said: "This is my gold medal, more or less.
"I'd missed the Olympic gold, nothing's going to stop me, I faced great guys along the way, and I beat them, and this guy's a great fighter too, but nobody's going to take this away from me."
He would not be denied and McCullough joined a select band of world champions from Northern Ireland, while following in the footsteps of fellow Belfast man John Caldwell, who also reigned at bantamweight. The Pocket Rocket hardly put a foot wrong as he used his - often underrated - jab to great effect and remorseless pressure, which seemed part of his DNA, to suffocate the proud champion.
The Belfast man's roar of delight and defiance at the announcement of his split decision victory bounced off the arena's walls and he lapped up the polite applause before enjoying the moment of glory with Cheryl and brother Alan.
The returning king made a solitary defence in Belfast and wore down the feeble challenge of Dane Johnny Bredahl in the King's Hall, venue to all the greats who had gone before him. Then came a brutal encounter with Mexican Jose Luis Bueno. He would never taste victory on the world stage again but walked tall against Daniel Zaragoza, Naseem Hamed, Erik Morales and Oscar Larios. In between was a one-sided beating from World featherweight champion Scott Harrison which led to him visiting a Glasgow hospital.
Now McCullough, working as a coach, seeks to pass on all the knowledge he has gained from a lifetime in the ring.
Unfortunately for those under his tutelage, he cannot give them the immense, innate, courage, grit and defiance that marked such an absorbing career.
Wayne McCullough reaches the 50 landmark today. To mark his big day, David Kelly looks back at five of his career highlights.
1. Barcelona, August 1992
The US basketball Dream Team provided some Hollywood glitz to the Barcelona Olympics, while in the ring notable gold medallists were Oscar de la Hoya and Irishman Michael Carruth. McCullough went through hellish pain to make the bantamweight final, suffering a broken cheekbone in his victory over Korean Gwang-Sik Li. With blood seeping from his eye and a sense of electricity shooting through his face every time Cuban legend Joel Casamayor landed in their dramatic final, the Belfast man showed incredible resolve to win the last round, picking up silver to add to Commonwealth Games gold two years earlier.
2. Atlantic City, June 1994
Having chalked up 12 wins as a professional after turning professional with American Mat Tinley, McCullough was pitched in with former World champion Victor Rabanales in a North American bantamweight title fight that would pave the way for either man to challenge for the WBC title. McCullough and the teak tough Mexican went to war for 12 rounds, leaving the young pro battered, bruised but victorious in a bout that few prospects would have engaged in. It was a world title bout in all but name and he would become the mandatory challenger for the WBC crown.
3. Nagoya, July 1995
Yasuei Yakushiji was making the fifth defence of his WBC World bantamweight title in the same arena he had won the belt two years earlier, the Aichi Prefectural Gym, and entered the ring favourite to remain as champion. McCullough, though, rose to the occasion and produced one of the finest post-war victories by a British fighter on foreign soil. With his usual fusion of heart, skill and full throttle intensity, he often outworked the champion throughout the 12 rounds. There was, however, still the nailbiting announcement of a split decision but thankfully justice was served and McCullough was World bantamweight champion.
4. Dublin, March 1996
McCullough moved on from a comfortable first defence of his WBC bantamweight title against Johnny Bredahl at the King’s Hall to face Jose Luis Bueno. It was expected to an entertaining but clear win for the Pocket Rocket but instead turned into a brutal, energy-sapping points win. Behind the scenes, McCullough had been in a desperate battle with the scales and ended up in hospital with dehydration — with dark glasses provided by one of his biggest fans at ringside, Bono.
5. Atlantic City, October 1998
A controversial defeat to Daniel Zaragoza in a WBC super-bantamweight title fight in 1997 was followed by a trip to Atlantic City for a WBO World featherweight clash with Naseem Hamed. A natural super-bantam, the step up in weight against such a powerful hitter led many to see McCullough as a big underdog but he pushed the Prince all the way over 12 competitive rounds, using his boxing ability to frustrate the champion’s attempts at landing his power shots. Despite losing on points, he had gained even more credit for his warrior heart.