Sports promoter Barry Hearn awarded honorary doctorate by east London university

Barry Hearn was awarded the honorary doctorate at the University of East London Picture: David Harri

Barry Hearn was awarded the honorary doctorate at the University of East London Picture: David Harrison mail@davidharriso - Credit: Archant

Barry Hearn, the sports promoter and former Leyton Orient FC chairman, has been awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of East London.

Hearn, 66, was honoured in recognition of his services to sport over the last four decades. He was nominated for the degree by UEL’s School of Health, Sport and Bioscience.

He has been behind some of the most iconic moments in British sporting history, including a string of epic battles on the snooker baize and in the boxing ring.

He described the award of a doctorate as “a huge shock” but also a “tremendous honour”.

He said: “It’s a unique occasion. I’ve had a few of them in my life that I’ll never forget and I think this is going to be another one.”

Mr Hearn grew up on a council estate in Dagenham and did not go to university. He said he learned from a young age how to “take on an opportunity” despite, by his own admission, “not being as well educated as others”.

In 1974, he became the chairman of Lucania Snooker Clubs. His business boomed when the BBC began to broadcast snooker in colour. By 1978, Mr Hearn was managing many of snooker’s biggest stars. Among them was Steve Davis, who went on to win the world title six times.

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Eight years later, he founded Matchroom Sport, a sports promotion company, and expanded into boxing. The many well-known fighters he has promoted include Frank Bruno, Nigel Benn, Naseem Hamed and Chris Eubank.

He said: “It’s been some journey. I’m still on my journey which has taken me very far. It has brought me here to UEL and it makes me proud to see an institution in the East End of London which is of the people and for the people. UEL’s journey is really just beginning and that is exciting, as is receiving this doctorate.”

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