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Hugh McIlvanney

1934 - 2019

Sports journalist and broadcaster. Born in Kilmarnock, the elder brother of novelist William McIlvanney (b.1936), McIlvanney was educated at the James Hamilton Junior Secondary and Kilmarnock Academy. He began his career as a journalist with The Kilmarnock Standard (1950). He was introduced to sports writing at The Scotsman by its passionate editor Alistair Dunnett (1908-98) and he joined The Observer newspaper in London as a sports writer in 1962. Over the succeeding thirty years he rose to become its Chief Sports Correspondent and he moved to the same post at The Sunday Times in 1993, where he remained until his retirement at the age of 82 in 2016.

Noted for his stylish prose, depth of knowledge and acerbic wit, McIlvanney is widely regarded as the most outstanding British sporting correspondent of his time. He has won the prestigious Sports Writer of the Year Award on seven occasions, a unique achievement, and is the only sports journalist to have been voted Journalist of the Year. McIlvanney was awarded an OBE in 1996. He was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame (2009), the Scottish Football Hall of Fame (2011) and the English Football Hall of Fame (2017).

His reputation has gained him unique access to several leading sports personalities. He has written extensively on boxer Muhammad Ali, football manager Jock Stein (1922-85) and wrote Managing My Life (2000), a biography of another football manager Sir Alex Ferguson (b.1941). Some of his best work has been brought together as collections covering his three major interests; namely McIlvanney on Boxing (1996), McIlvanney on Football (1994) and McIlvanney on Horseracing (1995). McIlvanney also regularly appears on television and radio.

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