By Phil Lanning
BARRY HEARN is the king of “vision, vibrancy and creativeness” according to his sports promoting pal of 40 years Tommy Gilmour.
The Professional Darts Corporation Chairman announced that he is stepping down from his role with immediate effect today, with son Eddie taking the reins.
But Dagenham-born Hearn, now 72, leaves a legacy of turning unfashionable indoor sports into sensational sexy shows for millions of TV and live audiences.
Scot Gilmour met Hearn in the early 1980s as boxing promoters and became rivals, colleagues and most importantly close family friends and confidantes.
It was Hearn who persuaded Gilmour when he announced his retirement from boxing in 2008 to manage Gary Anderson in darts, a relationship that delivered two World Championship titles and a plethora of majors.
But Gilmour, owner of Dunvegan Darts, was not for talking his pal out of riding into the sunset when they spoke last week. He said: “I think it’s the right thing that he’s done. Eddie has done a great job and it’s the right time now to step aside.
“Barry knew before anybody else that I was retiring or he knew when I was having a problem. The same way he told me last week that he was stepping down. There’s just things you can tell your pals and they’re sacred.
“He’ll still be the guy I go to to moan at. You can’t break a habit of a lifetime!
“He can’t help himself but stick his nose in. But he’s got a young vibrant team that he’s handing things over to.
“The change won’t make any difference to darts whatsoever. Eddie will be in control but darts will run under Matt Porter as usual. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”
Gilmour, 69, admits that Hearn’s impact on indoor sports is unrivalled in British promoting history, revolutionising boxing, snooker and darts into major entertainments on TV and live events.
He added: “There’s been people I’ve worked closely with but Barry has been the best. He always had that vision, vibrancy and creativeness.
“I was nuts and bolts in the joint ventures that we did together. He was much more flamboyant.
“It’s so diverse what he’s done. From the world of boxing to the world of ping pong. From fishing to ten pin bowling.
“He’s taken sports that people have enjoyed and taken them to a different level. He always wanted to make it enjoyable, not just to watch but to participate in.”
Hearn has suffered a heart attack and had Covid-19 over the past year and Gilmour is delighted that he will now enjoy life away from the desk a bit more.
The inspirational Chairman was also awarded an OBE in the New Year, taking the slight bragging rights over his old Glaswegian pal who has an MBE. That undoubtedly will provoke a bit of banter between the pair over a glass of red wine.
Gilmour added: “There’s certain things he wants to do for himself. He loves his fishing. If it wasn’t for Covid he was going to do a big fishing trip to Canada.
“I travelled the world with Barry. I always made time for me to go out and see the town around about us. But he wouldn’t even take out a few hours in the afternoon to explore a place that we had never been to in our lifetime.
“Barry was never a great one for holidays, because his work was his holiday. The last couple of times he’s really enjoyed his holidays. Now he’ll get the chance to do that more.”
Images by Taylor Lanning.