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July 08 , 2008

Who Was Hurricane Higgins?


Alex 'Hurricane' Higgins transcended sport in a way very few sportsmen ever have. In this definitive biography, Tony Francis describes how Alex threw himself into life like a man throwing himself off a cliff. No safety net. No plan. No fear. No shame. Francis interviews more than sixty witnesses to this extraordinary life and comes up with a remarkable series of adventures to surprise even Alex's staunchest fans. We hear from his ex-wife Lynn who tolerated him for ten years, helped him recover from a suicide attempt, watched him trash the house, but still has a fondness for the father of her kids. Snooker champion Jimmy White, Alex's best friend, says: 'I loved him, I hated him, I loved him, I hated him!' The author investigates the Irish drink culture which undermined his family, colleagues and, of course Higgins himself. How did Higgins' fellow Irish sportsman and biggest fan, Barry McGuigan, escape the excesses which dragged Higgins and George Best into the gutter? Did drink account for Higgins' wild outbursts or was there something more to it? Why did his lost love describe the man who once head-butted a tournament official as 'the gentlest man I ever met'? For all his faults, Higgins was, for a time, the most loved sportsman in Britain. He remains a legend and the most outstanding, charismatic snooker player who ever walked into an arena. Francis traces his crazy life from the time when as a baby he was kept in a shoe box in his mother's top drawer, to the sheltered accommodation in Sandy Row, Belfast where died. If you want to know what kind of man could mesmerise and terrorise his way to the top; be acclaimed by millions one moment and literally thrown out of a pub the next; die in pitiful isolation yet be celebrated by thousands lining the streets in what amounted to a state funeral, then Who Was Hurricane Higgins? is a must-read.
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