The Olympic Federation of Ireland is sad to hear of the passing of Olympic Bronze Medallist Hugh Russell. The Belfast boxer died following a short illness and is remembered fondly by the Irish Olympic and boxing community. He won his bronze medal in the Men’s Flyweight category at the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games. The OFI extends our sympathies to the family and friends of Hugh Russell (1959 – 2023).
Having been knocked out at light flyweight in the Irish nationals in 1980, Russell was not most people’s idea of an Olympic medallist later that year in Moscow. But after a move back up to flyweight he secured a place at the Games and the rest is Irish sporting history. Wins over Iraqi, Tanzanian and Korean opponents secured him a semi-final spot in Moscow, where he was beaten by Bulgaria’s Petar Lesov, the eventual gold medallist. During a troubled time in Belfast, the impact of Russell’s achievement could not be understated, and upon his return from Russia he was told how the streets would clear at the time of his fights so everyone could follow his exploits on TV. Before leaving Moscow, Russell spent the last of his roubles on a camera, which he used to ignite a career in photography, for which he has won awards and drawn wide acclaim.