Tears flow for the sudden loss of top boxer
HE was a warrior to those who fought against him, and a lifelong friend to those who walked beside him.
Barry Prior, known widely in North Queensland boxing circles as the Birri Gubba Warrior, will be farewelled tomorrow after the Ingham born-and-raised fighter passed away aged 43 on March 13.
A fearsome boxer who never shied away from a tough fight, Prior has also been remembered as a role model of the North Queensland indigenous community who was always willing to lend a hand to those who needed it most.
Prior was once one of the most promising amateur boxers in Australia, and in 1996 he was the holder of the Queensland Golden Gloves, State and Australian cruiserweight titles.
Starting his career under the watch of his trainer and lifelong friend Steve Lawlor, Prior fought his last fight just a week before his death against an opponent in his 20s.
"He just had the aura. I remember people who had already won titles wanting to have their picture taken with Barry Prior," Lawlor said.
Prior's brother Raymond added: "People could just see something in him. He had 12 fights in his first year and only had one loss," he said.
"He was 17 going 18 and fighting against grown men.
"When we were fighting you were still a novice until about your 10th fight, and he was fighting for Australian titles after 10 or 11 fights.
"A lot of men loved him, a lot of men feared him."
A highlight of Prior's professional career was his fight in 2017 at the Townsville Entertainment and Convention Centre against a boxer who was expected to wear the much older Prior down and score a relatively comfortable win.
Instead, Prior caused his opponent enough troubles and showed plenty of willpower to hang on for a split decision, which went to the younger fighter
"This fella was supposed to destroy him, but Barry lost on a split points decision," Lawlor said.
"You couldn't knock out Barry, he so hard to hit."
Raymond said he was just as enthralled with Barry's performance as the crowd watching on.
"After my brother lost on a split decision, the other guy about six to eight fights later went to China for a world title bout.
"Barry went into the fight with four weeks notice; that's why sometimes I wish would've trained harder and been committed."
Prior leaves behind six children and 13 siblings, including Raymond who expressed his shock at his Brother's unexpected passing.
Raymond said his brother may have died from a hereditary health condition, but the family is still unsure.
"I just feel so lost brother, it's a big part of me gone" he said. "We did everything together."
Lawlor said he is starting a fledgling boxing club named Birri Gubba in Prior's honour.
"It's based in Mundingburra, and he's great nephew is our first fighter," Lawlor said.
Originally published as Tears flow for the sudden loss of a warrior