Boxing world mourns promoter Mickey Duff

By Marcus Dysch, March 24, 2014
Mickey Duff with former Commonwealth Games gold medalist Rod Douglas (Photo: PA)

Mickey Duff with former Commonwealth Games gold medalist Rod Douglas (Photo: PA)

Former boxing world champions and trainers have paid tribute to promoter and manager Mickey Duff, who has died aged 84.

Duff worked with more than a dozen title winners during his career, including stars such as Frank Bruno, Joe Calzaghe and John Conteh.

Professional Boxing Association president Barry McGuigan described Duff as a "giant of boxing".

Leading promoter Barry Hearn said he had been "at his pinnacle, one of the most astute match-makers".

Duff was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1999 and was one of the most widely-respected figures in the sport.

Frank Warren, a promoter who had a long-running rivalry with him, said he had never stopped admiring "one of the most, if not the most, influential figures British boxing has seen".

Born Monek Prager, the son of a rabbi in Krakow, Poland, Duff was smuggled out of the country at the age of seven in 1937.

His family fled to London and settled in the East End, a move that he said helped them avoid "almost certain extermination" as the Shoah spread across eastern Europe.

At one stage Duff was sent by his parents to a yeshiva in Gateshead, but he soon returned to London amid claims he had been thrown out for setting up boxing classes for fellow students.

Despite taking part in 69 fights in his late teenage years, he decided to move into promoting and management after realising he would not reach the top of the sport as a fighter.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Duff and Jewish business partners, including Harry Levene, promoted some of the biggest fights ever staged in this country.

Among the highlights was their promotion of Henry Cooper's 1966 world heavyweight bout with Muhammed Ali at Highbury Stadium.

Last updated: 3:44pm, March 24 2014