Shaper: Barry Hearn

Show aired on 23rd April 2016


Barry Hearn qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1970 and spent several years with a major firm of international accountants before moving into the commercial world as finance director of Kensal House Investments. After a period in the fashion industry and property development, he became chairman of Lucania Snooker Clubs in 1974 and began to involve the snooker hall chain in amateur tournament promotions.

In 1976 Steve Davis began playing at the Romford Lucania Club and the two struck up a friendship which was to have a major influence on the world of snooker. In 1982 Riley Leisure acquired the chain of Lucania Snooker Clubs for £3.1 million leaving Barry free to concentrate on the development of snooker, both in the UK and overseas.  With the support of the Matchroom professional players, Barry promoted snooker all over the world and has been particularly instrumental in the development of the game in the Far East.

Barry began his involvement in big time boxing in 1987. Matchroom Boxing has since risen to the top in both Britain and Europe, staging over 20 major arena promotions throughout the season, including British, Commonwealth, European and World Championship bouts.

Together with Sky Sports, Barry helped discover and develop such champions as Chris Eubank, Nigel Benn, Herbie Hide, Francis Ampofo, Steve Collins, and Jim McDonnell. In more recent times, in conjunction with his son Eddie, the Hearns have set the likes of Carl Froch and Olympian Anthony Joshua on the path to glittering success. Indeed, on May 31, 2014, Matchroom Boxing promoted the biggest boxing show in British history as 85,000 people gathered at Wembley Stadium to see Carl Froch KO George Groves in the eighth round to retain his WPA and IBF World Super-Middleweight titles.

As Chairman of the Professional Darts Corporation over the past decade, Barry has overseen one of the sports business’s biggest success stories as darts has developed into a massive arena sport. With vast TV ratings in the UK and across Europe, the PDC is set to conquer the world as its stars like Phil ‘the Power’ Taylor and Michael Van Gerwen have established themselves as household names.

In March 1995, Barry Hearn assumed a controlling interest in Leyton Orient Football Club and over a twenty year period stabilised the club on a sound financial footing. Following almost two decades at the helm, in July 2014, Hearn sold his stake in the club to Italian Francesco Becchetti as Orient look forward to the next chapter in its storied history.

Finally, returning to his roots, in December 2009, Barry was voted in as Chairman of World Snooker and has since assumed a leading role as the revitalisation of the sport has gone from strength to strength. In five years, Hearn has more than doubled the total prize-money and turned snooker into a real global sport.

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“My mother was my driving force. She was a char lady. She used to clean people’s houses.”

“Once I make up my mind about something, I am relentless.”

“I have a great team of people around me and some great advisers that I rely on….but I never give them credit.”

“I think as you get older and richer you can develop principles you didn’t have before.”

“…sport is all about money, about aspiration, about inspiration, about dedication…”

“I think I am a blue collar prototype. I know what people want to do with their time. They want to be entertained, they don’t want to be ripped-off.”

“I wanted to be rich, you know. I’d grown up on a council estate looking at the houses on top of the hill and wanting one.”

“Everyone is born with some unique ability. The sadness is that most of them don’t have the opportunity to find out what that ability is.”

“You don’t make excuses for failure. You don’t accept failure. You will fail on occasions.”

“…It was a fabulous, fabulous experience because I had no idea what I was doing. But it made a shed load of money.”