British snooker player Alex Higgins found dead at age 61

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Alex Higgins in 2008.
Image: User:Bigpad.

Snooker player Alex Higgins, nicknamed "Hurricane", was found dead in his apartment in Donegall Road, Belfast, Northern Ireland on Saturday. He was aged 61 and had been suffering from throat cancer since 1997.

Born in Belfast on March 18, 1949, Higgins became the champion of the World Snooker Championship at the age of 23 in 1972. He reached the same achievement again in 1982. Higgins' final title victory was in the Irish Professional Championship in 1989.

During 1986, he received a fine and was banned from five tournaments after headbutting a director of a tournament. He was also banned from playing for one year in 1990 after threatening to have Dennis Taylor, another snooker player, shot.

Recently, Higgins lost all his teeth as the result of having treatment for his cancer. In May 2010, a charity dinner took place in Manchester, England that raised approximately £20,000 (US$30,997, 23,859, A$34,363, C$31,961) so as to allow surgery for new teeth for him to occur. However, Higgins was considered to be too unhealthy to have the surgery in Marbella, Spain.

Dennis Taylor, now a snooker commentator at the BBC, stated that "[t]here was just something about the way he played the game — there was a little bit of [John] McEnroe in there. I don't think you'll ever see a player in the game of snooker like the great Alex Higgins."

Philip Studd, another commentator of snooker for the BBC, has described the late snooker player as being "snooker's original troubled genius" and that Higgins was "[c]harismatic, flash, fast, unpredictable, combustible — you just couldn't take your eyes off the 'Hurricane'." Studd continued to explain that "[w]hile he could never match the consistency of Steve Davis or Stephen Hendry, Higgins on his day was the greatest of them all. He touched the heights in 1982 when he won his second world title. He pipped Jimmy White to the final thanks to a break still widely regarded as the finest ever made. His tears of triumph after beating Ray Reardon — wife and baby in arms — remains one of snooker's most iconic moments. Without Alex 'Hurricane' Higgins snooker would never have become one of the most popular television sports in the 1980s and beyond."


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