Tributes have poured in for Hugh Russell after the Irish Boxing champion died at age 63 following a battle with illness.
Russell had claimed a bronze medal for Ireland during the 1980 Olympic games after he beat Samit Khiniab, Emmanuel Mlundwa, Yo Ryon-Sik to book his place in the semi-final.
That would be as far as he would go, he was beaten by Bulgarian Petar Lesov but would still return to Ireland a hero.
Following his boxing career he took up photography working for the Irish News newspaper as well as holding a seat on the British Boxing Board of Control.
Following his passing, the likes of Barry McGuigan, Carl Frampton, Michael Conlan and promoter Frank Warren have expressed their respect for ‘Little Red’
Hugh Russell (middle) won an Olympic Bronze at the Moscow games in 1980
Known as Little Red he is viewed as an Icon of Belfast Boxing
He would later take up a career in photography and a seat on the British Boxing Board of Control
Taking to X Barry McGuigan wrote: ‘Shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of Hugh Russel Snr RIP. We travelled the World together as Amateurs and shared the same stable as Pro’s. Hugh won Olympic Bronze in Moscow and the British Title as a Pro. Deepest Sympathies to wife Kathy and son Hugh Jr.’
Carl Frampton also paid tribute to former British champion writing ‘I’ve just heard the sad news that Hugh Russell passed away. As as BBBoC member and an ex boxer, he always had the fighters’ best inetert at heart. One of the nicest men you could meet. RIP Hughie.’
Russell, known as ‘the great son of Belfast’, burst onto the scene as an 18-year-old when he won flyweight bronze at the 1978 Commonwealth Games.
Promoter Frank Warren was also full of praise for Russell: ‘My thoughts and everyone at Queensberry are with the family and friends of Hugh Russell.
‘A former Olympic medalist and British champion Hugh will be a greatly missed figure in our sport, and above all else was a thoroughly nice man and a great ambassador for boxing in Northern Ireland.’
Former WBA Featherweight and fellow Northern Irishman Michael Conlan added: ‘Gutted to wake up to the news that Hugh Russell has passed away. What a great human being who will be sorely missed throughout the boxing community.
‘A legend of Belfast boxing and always a friend. RIP Hughm my thoughts and prayers go to your family.’