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Blackpool Snooker: Snooker legend Alex 'Hurricane' Higgins dies at 61

alex higgins 82

Former world snooker champion Alex Higgins has died aged 61 after a long battle against throat cancer.

The two-time world champion, a heavy smoker, was reportedly found dead in his flat in Belfast on Saturday.

Recent newspaper pictures showed a painfully thin Higgins in Spain after his hopes of having surgery to get new teeth had been dashed.

Higgins lost all his teeth during his cancer treatment but was not deemed fit enough to have the surgery.

The Northern Irishman Higgins had been suffering from throat cancer for more than a decade and he blamed his illness largely on the cigarette makers who sponsored his sport

His weight had reportedly plummeted to only seven stone as he had to have all his food pureed because eating in a normal fashion had become excruciating.

Friends of the controversial snooker legend had raised around 20,000 to enable Higgins to have the surgery in Spain.

However, he was deemed too frail to undergo the operation by the Spanish medics.

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Higgins was in the news in May after claiming that he had knowledge of at least four top players taking bribes to lose tournament matches.

The Northern Ireland legend also revealed that he turned down several big-money offers to throw games in his career.

Higgins, the world champion in 1972 and 1982, claimed Greek gamblers offered him 18,000 in 1979 to lose his Benson & Hedges Masters quarter-final against Perrie Mans and 20,000 to cheat at the Irish Masters in 1989 but rejected both.

Higgins was scheduled to appear in the new World Seniors Championship in November.

The Belfast man clinched his first World title in 1972 as he defeated John Spencer in the final and memorably repeated that triumph 10 years later at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield by beating Ray Reardon.

Higgins was also beaten in the 1976 and 1980 world finals while other triumphs included two Masters titles at Wembley.

He had frequent brushes with snooker's governing body - he once head-butted a tournament director - and his career suffered a downward spiral after being banned for an entire season following a threat to have his compatriot Dennis Taylor shot in 1990.

Higgins was married twice and had two children with his second wife Lynn, whom he later divorced.

24th July 2010, 20:55
 
Page updated 24th Jul 2010, 20:55
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