Alan Minter was boxing’s poster boy – and a national sporting treasure

It is hard to convey to today’s sports fans how significant a presence Alan Minter was back in the day.

You could not take your eyes off him in the ring or out of it. He was a good looking fella with bright blue, Paul Newman eyes, a poster boy for the sport.

I wanted to be like him, to fight like him. But he was a more skilled boxer than I was and a southpaw.

He got a poor decision at the Munich Olympics in 1972, losing out to West Germany’s Dieter Kottysch in the semis despite having him over in the final round.

Kottysch went on to win the gold that he always felt should have been his. Olympic bronze is a fine achievement but it came with huge disappointment.

As a kid I used to watch him on Grandstand and Sportsnight. It was a time when boxing was a staple of terrestrial TV, making Minter a household name as an amateur, never mind pro.

When he turned over the whole country followed his career in a way that is just not possible now.

He was so exciting and a great finisher when he had opponents hurt. Ultimately cuts held him back. He had paper skin. When he finally got to the world title he was beginning to fade.

He beat Vito Antuofermo controversially in Las Vegas then emphatically by knockout at Wembley to realise his world title dream, claiming the WBA and WBC middleweight belts.

But three months later they were gone on a difficult night for him and British boxing. You could see from the get-go that Marvin Hagler was too good for him.

He was too good for 95 per cent of the middleweight champions I have ever seen. Hagler was ruthless.

The crowd trouble that followed was shameful, a footnote Minter’s career did not deserve.

Beating Antuofermo and Sandy Torres in America, beating Ray Seales, America’s only Munich boxing gold medallist, in London and those amazing fights with Kevin Finnegan, all three razor close wins, were the high points.

I felt sad for him that he developed a problem with alcohol. It was a huge issue between him and his son Ross. Happily they made it up.

I was proud he was in the studio with Des Lynam on the night I beat Eusebio Pedroza for the WBA featherweight title in 1985.

It meant he had a small part to play in my career, which was my privilege not his.

RIP my friend. You were a hero and an inspiration to many, one of British boxing’s best.

Follow Barry on Twitter at @ClonesCyclone, @McGuigans_Gym and @CyclonePromo

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