Legendary Commonwealth boxing champion ‘Sugar Ray’ Heaney has died of ‘boxer’s dementia’, it has been revealed.
Raymond Heaney was a giant among boxers having fought his way into the sport the hard way - as a bare-knuckle fighter from the age of around 12 in his hometown of Lurgan.
Born in October 1951, Raymond was originally from the Milltown area of Lurgan - just past St Michael’s Grammar School.
The son of the late Harry and Teresa Heaney, Ray was one of 15 children, the seventh of eight boys and the second youngest.
His siblings included Lily, Gerard, Denis, Bernadette, Pearse, Marie, Angela, Brian, Margaret and the late Seamus, Hugh, Michael, Maurita and John.
A talented carpenter by trade, Ray sawed off part of his little finger. He had a great sense of humour and often used this minor disability to play tricks on family and friends.
Ray reached the pinnacle of his fighting career in 1974 when he took part in the Commonwealth Games.
Raymond, formerly of Drumlin Drive, Lurgan, was 67, and had two children, daughter Alana and son Raymond.
His daughter Alana said he had his last fight in 1981 and since then he suffered from Boxer’s Dementia and later Korsakoff’s Syndrome.
She said he was officially diagnosed with the latter in 1999 and suffered terribly over the past 20 years.
“He had a very successful career, first as an amateur and then professional but it was the boxing that killed him,” said Alana.
Requiem Mass will be said for Mr Heaney at St Peter’s Church Lurgan on Saturday at 9.30am with burial afterwards in St Coleman’s Cemetery.
He will be deeply mourned by his children, Alana and Raymond, his grandchildren Shanice, Raymond, Aoife and Senan and great grandchildren Taylor and Farrah, his brothers, sisters and wide family circle.