Boxing mourns passing of legendary MC Jim Noonan

MC Jim Noonan announces the judges' scorecards at the 2008 Ulster senior finals in the Andersonstown Leisure Centre, with Shane McGuigan having his hand raised after a close welterweight final. Picture by Brendan Murphy
Neil Loughran

TRIBUTES have been paid to one of the great characters of the local boxing scene, Jim Noonan, who sadly passed away yesterday morning at the age of 82.

The Tipperary native, who lived in Draperstown, served as Ulster Council secretary and later vice-president but gave so much more to the sport in a lifetime of dedicated service.

A colourful life took Jim from Drangan to London where his easy way and dulcet tones led him to become a fixture of the growing music hall scene as a master of ceremonies.

Indeed, those connections led to compering the 1964 Miss World competition at the Lyceum Ballroom.

But it was when he moved back to Ireland that his love of the noble art took hold and, away from the many gyms with which he was involved, Jim was also MC at many of the major boxing events across Ulster.

Ciaran Quinn first got to know him when he boxed out of the Draperstown club, and in later years Jim Noonan was a huge help when Quinn set up St John’s Boxing Club in Swatragh seven years ago.

“Jim was a great man, and a great help when we opened our doors,” said Quinn.

“All the equipment came from Draperstown to help our club set up, and he became vice-president of Swatragh. Any time I needed him he was on the phone, no bother.

“Every club across Ulster knew him from his role as MC, and even back years ago he’d have been the voice of the Ulster Hall for the seniors.

“He’ll be greatly missed by everybody in boxing.”

Noonan was also a former member of Errigal Boxing Club and head coach Danny Deighan, a long-time friend, said: “Jim was a boxing man through and through, and a great MC with it. He’ll be sadly missed.”

Jim Noonan is survived by wife Mary and sons Paul, Maurus and Steven. The funeral takes place at 11am tomorrow at St Columba’s Church in Straw.

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