The local boxing community was dealt a knockout blow this week following the sad passing of Tommy McCann.
Many tributes have been paid to the Aranmore Avenue native but none will fill the huge void that now remains in the hearts of so many people who knew him. For Tommy was one of life’s true gentlemen, a larger-than-life character who always had a smile and a joke for all those he came in contact with and the huge attendance at his funeral was testament to his popularity.
He lived a full and active life and dedicated himself to the toughest sport of them all, amateur boxing and it was no accident that he would choose this path. After all, he had been born into a family steeped in sporting tradition.
An accomplished boxer who was an ever-present in the halls and arenas throughout Ireland, his tigerish style was much admired by his contemporaries. Whenever Tommy decided to hang up the gloves he remained in the sport he loved and turned to coaching where he assisted at several local clubs, helping to shape the careers of many young men for decades to come.
Tommy also excelled as a boxing referee and was held in high esteem by his colleagues. He was highly respected by officials and boxers alike and his carefree nature put many young newcomers at ease as they entered the ring for the first time.
His infectious enthusiasm and ebullient demeanour made ringside activities so much more palatable and whenever things got heated - as they so often did at important Championships - Tommy would defuse the situation with the comment: “What’s it all about?”
Although he held several powerful positions in amateur boxing, he was a very humble man who shunned the limelight, never detracting from the boxers who, he believed, are the most important people in the sport.
He served as President of the County Derry Amateur Boxing Board and was a long-serving member of the Ulster Boxing Council.
Whilst he loved his chosen sport, his greatest love was for his darling wife Ann and his family circle. It was there, surrounded by his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren that Tommy was happiest. That impish glint in his eye whenever he and Ann engaged in their verbal sparring matches was a joy to behold. They had spent 56 joyful years together and were very much in love, this was clear for all to see.
He wil be sorely missed by all those who knew him and the profound sympathy of the Derry and North-West amateur boxing fraternity is extended to the McCann family circle.
May he rest in peace.