ichelle O’Neill has led tributes to Belfast-born Olympic medallist boxer Hugh Russell.
The 63-year-old died within the early hours of Friday following an sickness.
Russell made his title within the boxing ring as a younger man, profitable bronze medals on the 1978 Commonwealth Video games in Edmonton and the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, each within the flyweight division.
As an expert he claimed British and Irish bantamweight and flyweight titles.
Affectionately generally known as “Little Crimson”, Russell went on to forge an award-winning profession as a press photographer on the Irish Information.
Amongst his best-known images was one in every of Gerry Conlon of the Guildford 4 celebrating with supporters after strolling free from jail in 1989 following the quashing of his wrongful conviction as an IRA bomber.
Russell was on the forefront of stories reporting, capturing photos throughout many years of the Troubles, peace course of and politics in Northern Eire.
Boxing promoter Frank Warren mentioned Russell was a “nice ambassador” for the game in Northern Eire.
“My ideas and everybody at Queensberry are with the household and mates of Hugh Russell,” he posted on the social media platform X, previously generally known as Twitter.
“A former Olympic medallist and British champion Hugh can be a drastically missed determine in our sport, and above all else was a completely good man and an important ambassador for boxing in Northern Eire.”
Sinn Fein vice chairman Ms O’Neill mentioned she was “deeply saddened” to be taught of Russell’s dying.
“My quick ideas are together with his spouse Kathy, daughter Hayley and sons Hugh Jnr, James and Calum and wider circle of household and mates at this very unhappy and troublesome time,” she mentioned.
“I wish to additionally prolong my condolences to all of Hugh’s colleagues within the Irish Information, to the numerous press photographers and journalists who labored with him over many many years and the boxing and sporting communities.
“Hugh grew up in North Belfast’s New Lodge space and developed a love of the game of boxing. He went on to win many main titles, together with bronze medals within the 1980 Olympic Video games and the 1978 Commonwealth Video games. Hugh went on to win Irish and British titles when he turned skilled in 1981 and retained an energetic curiosity within the sport for the remainder of his life.”
Ms O’Neill continued: “He had a deep ardour for pictures and for a few years labored as a press photographer for the Irish Information, capturing a number of the most iconic imagery of our historical past right here.
“Over time, I’ve had the pleasure of assembly Hugh at many occasions and press conferences and he all the time carried out his work with good wit, humour and a smile.
“He was an absolute gentleman and a pleasure to get to know.
“Hugh can be deeply missed by all.”
Our champion has fought his ultimate spherical
In a press release the Irish Information described Russell as a “much-loved colleague”, and prolonged their deepest condolences to his household.
Editor Noel Doran mentioned he was liked by everybody he labored with.
“Hugh Russell was an excellent photographer and an impressive boxer however for his Irish Information colleagues he was most of all an important buddy and an exquisite colleague,” he mentioned.
“It’s truthful to say that Hugh was liked by everybody he labored with throughout his 40-year profession on the paper, and he was equally revered by our readers and all those that had the privilege of coping with him professionally and personally.
“I’m devastated by his loss and the ideas and prayers of everybody on the Irish Information are together with his spouse Kathy and his household. Our champion has fought his ultimate spherical.”
The County Antrim Boxing Board described Russell as a “legend of the game”.
They recalled the beginning of his profession at Holy Household Golden Gloves in Belfast, and claiming “innumerable Antrim, Ulster and Irish titles as he rose to Senior Elite”.
“He boxed for Northern Eire on the 1978 Commonwealth Video games in Canada, and got here house with bronze. It was within the 1980 Olympics that be turned, at the moment, Eire’s sixth Olympic boxing medallist,” they mentioned.
“Hugh moved on to work as a multi-award profitable press photographer, latterly with the Irish Information.
“He was additionally a chief official within the British Boxing Board of Management, overseeing many massive battle nights in Belfast. In 2019 he was inducted into the Belfast Metropolis Council sporting corridor of fame.
“Following Hugh’s unhappy passing in a single day, tributes are being paid internationally of Irish boxing.
“Hugh can be fondly remembered by all within the sport in Eire and can be sadly missed.”
Niall O’Carroll, chair of the Irish Athletic Boxing Affiliation (IABA) board of administrators, mentioned: “My first two recollections of boxing as a child have been Ali preventing Larry Holmes and Hugh profitable his bronze medal. Particularly the Russian announcer announcing his title.
“Hugh was the person who began the fashionable success of Irish Olympic boxing. His passing could be very unhappy information – IABA extends its deepest condolences to his household and mates.”