Former Olympian Hugh Russell dies aged 63

Former Olympian Hugh Russell dies aged 63

Hugh Russell, the Irish Olympic bronze medallist and former British bantamweight and flyweight champion boxer, has sadly passed away at the age of 63.

Russell's remarkable boxing career included winning bronze for Northern Ireland at the 1978 Commonwealth Games in Edmonton, Canada, and later securing another bronze for Ireland at the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

During the Moscow Olympics, Russell showcased his talent by winning three bouts. He defeated opponents like Samit Khiniab of Iraq and Emmanuel Mlundwa of Tanzania with convincing 5-0 scores in the earlier rounds. In the quarter-finals, he narrowly edged past North Korea's Yo Ryon-Sik with a 3-2 victory. However, his journey was halted by the dominant Bulgarian boxer Petar Lesov in the semi-finals, who eventually went on to win the gold medal.

After his Olympic achievements, Russell transitioned to professional boxing, where he had a successful career from 1981 to 1985, retiring as the undefeated British flyweight champion. Following his time in the ring, he pursued a passion for photography and became a skilled photographer, notably collaborating with the Irish News newspaper.

Tributes have been paid to the late boxer by a number of users on social media.

"Always a smile and a laugh. One of the good guys in boxing who cared for the sport and all involved. Thinking of his family at this sad time. R.I.P. Hugh Russell," said one user.

"Absolutely devastated by the loss of our colleague Hugh Russell. Champion boxer and top-class photographer but a friend and colleague who was always on hand to lend some sage advice or lighten the mood with a wisecrack and that cheeky grin. RIP Champ," added another.

Carl Frampton said, "I've just heard the sad news that Hugh Russell passed away. As a BBBoC member and an ex-boxer, he always had the fighters’ best interest at heart. One of the nicest men you could meet. RIP Hughie."