Boxer turned news photographer ‘captured window’ of Northern Ireland’s history

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Crowds, including boxers Carl Frampton and Paddy Barnes, attended the funeral of Hugh Russell in Belfast.

Photographers and members of the media make a Guard of Honour as the coffin of Olympic medallist boxer and press photographer Hugh Russell is taken from St Patrick’s Church in Belfast

Russell became a well-known figure as a young man thanks to his prowess in the boxing ring, winning bronze medals at the 1978 Commonwealth Games in Edmonton and the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, both in the flyweight division.Russell, known affectionately as “Little Red”, went on to work as an award-winning photographer for the newspaper the Irish News, during which time he recorded “momentous historical events”.

The crowds also included Sinn Fein North Belfast John Finucane, with his party colleague Caral Ni Chulin, UUP MLA Mike Nesbitt, SDLP veteran Alban Maginness, journalists Barney Rowan and Mervyn Jess, Richard Moore from Children in Crossfire, and entertainment personality John Lenihan, who plays the character May McFettridge.

He said Russell was a role model and inspiration for many, adding his life had a “ripple effect on so many other lives”. “His achievements are easy to list, what is much more difficult to quantify is the influence that Hugh himself had on younger people, and on boxers in particular.Turning to his 40-year career as a photographer, Fr Spence said Russell has left a record that will provide a window for future generations.

 

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