FIGURES from boxing were recognised in the New Year Honours list. Barry Hearn, the chairman of promotional powerhouse Matchroom, received an OBE for his services to sport.
Hearn, then a chartered accountant, initially began working in sport as the manager of snooker player Steve Davis in the late 1970s, before forming Matchroom Sport in 1982. In 1987 he promoted his first contest in boxing, Frank Bruno vs Joe Bugner. Matchroom has continued to be a force in boxing and darts in the UK.
Hearn said, “I’m incredibly proud to have been awarded an OBE. It has been a great joy to be involved in such a wide range of sports for over 40 years, and to be recognised for that work is an honour.
“I’ve been lucky enough to work with some of the greatest players ever to play in their sport from Steve Davis to Phil Taylor to Chris Eubank, and I’ve got so many wonderful memories.
“Alongside those elite players though, I’ve always tried to create pathways and opportunities for people to reach the very top of their chosen sport and to change their life in the process.
“This award is also a recognition for the hard-working, creative and dedicated staff I work with at Matchroom Sport and in our chosen sports, who share my vision and help to bring our events to reality.
“A passion for sport has been a mantra for us all at Matchroom, and I’m so fortunate to have enjoyed such a wonderful time across the last four decades.”
Besides Barry Hearn, three boxing figures from Sheffield were also recognised in the end of year honours, a remarkable accolade for themselves and their city.
From the professional sport, Curtis Woodhouse, a Premier League footballer before he became British champion as a boxer, was awarded a BEM. His award was for services to football and boxing.
“Don’t ever let people’s words discourage you. Don’t ever let people put restrictions on what you can achieve. But most importantly don’t ever give up on yourself. Ever,” he said. “When I got the news I was going to be receiving this recognition from Her Majesty the Queen, it was a perfect time for me to reflect on what’s been an incredible 20 years in sport for me. This is a really proud moment for myself and my family and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all that have followed me all over the country and world supporting me, normally spending money we didn’t have to deliver opportunities for me, for that I’ll always be grateful.”
In amateur boxing Bob Wright and Brendan Warburton both received MBEs.
Bob Wright has run Parsons Cross ABC for the last 30 years, providing such an important service to a host of troubled youngsters. He founded the club in 1981 as a safe haven for young people in the area and has been going strong ever since.
“I can’t believe it,” Wright said. “After receiving hundreds of messages and phone calls of congratulations on receiving an MBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the well wishers who took time out to congratulate me including ones from overseas. Thanks to you all and I wish you all a very happy and prosperous new year.”
Brendan Warburton, the head coach of Sheffield City boxing club, was awarded an MBE for services to sport and the community in Sharrow. The club has been running since 2001, supporting young people in their lives as well as producing champions. “Really flattered to be included in the Queen’s New Years honours list with an MBE,” Warburton said. “Thank you to everyone who has contacted me today with messages of appreciation and support, it’s been overwhelming!
“A little bit of sunshine at the end of a tough year for everyone. Though I get the credit, I’d like to give thanks to all the coaches, volunteers and members at the club. We all come together and make Sheffield city boxing club work and I’m really proud of that.
“Wishing everyone a better and happy 2021.”