Universally respected, John was a gentleman

He was the man who coined the phrase Bible John and who for more than 30 years was the football and boxing correspondent of the Evening Times.

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As reported in later editions of yesterday's Evening Times, John Quinn died yesterday at Glasgow Royal Infirmary with his family at his bedside after a long battle with illness.

The 74-year-old, who was from Garrowhill, Glasgow worked with this newspaper for 34 years before his retirement in 1997.

He was the son of a boxer and was recognised as the most authorit-ative voice on the sport in Scotland.

In his time he covered every major fight involving a Scot since the 1960s and could count among friends his idol, Sugar Ray Robinson, and Muhammad Ali.

He also reported on the big football stories and famously drove a green and white Hillman Imp to Lisbon to report on Celtic's 1967 European Cup win.

Today Evening Times columnist and John's former colleague David Stirling, above, pays tribute to the man he first met 47 years ago.

IT was 1964 and I was outside the Glasgow Herald and Evening Times office, then shoehorned between Frasers and Mitchell Lane.

Buchanan Street had not yet been liberated by pedestrians and a car was stalled, double-parked. As the newest Evening Times copy boy, I was press-ganged to push.

The two smiling pals who greeted me at the car could have been twins. In their late 20s, well dressed, with tidy thick black hair, they had the build and casual litheness of athletes. One was Walter McGowan, soon to be WBC world flyweight boxing champion. The other was an Evening Times news reporter, John Quinn.

Throughout our 47-year friendship that first image seemed unchanging. He was always immaculate in a shirt – preferably with cufflinks – and tie. The full head of hair remained dark long after it was decent and there was that glorious smile of greeting.

He had joined the Times from the Scottish Daily Mail as a news reporter and stayed 34 years. There was a lot to like about JQ. He reported on the Peter Manuel trial in the late 1950s and then 10 years later in the Times he coined the name Bible John, for the still unidentified murderer of three women in the city.

He rose to be News Editor and, until retiring in 1997, he was a sports reporter, having covered football and boxing for the Times throughout those 34 years.

He took his love of boxing from his father, who had fought almost 300 times as a professional. JQ tried his hand as an amateur – "but my old man told me to get out before I was damaged!"

On his retirement he wrote: "I remain ambivalent about the game. I recognise the pain it can inflict but there is nobility to it. You have to be courageous to step between the ropes. You need a strength of character."

JQ had all that and more. It was a measure of the man that two weeks before his death he asked if I would write these few words. I'm a poor substitute for our other great friend and former colleague, Alan Davidson.

The greatest fighter JQ saw was Sugar Ray Robinson, who became a close friend, and he was on first-name terms with Muhammad Ali.

His other great sporting love was football. He famously persuaded the former car plant at Linwood to loan the Times a new Hillman Imp.

It was painted green and white and led a convoy of 100 cars on the four-day jaunt to see Celtic win the European Cup in Lisbon. The trip's downside was being labelled by both sides of the city but his impartiality was recognised at Parkhead and Ibrox.

Just as he could see the dark side of boxing, he also saw the damage caused by the Old Firm divide and he denounced bigotry of any persuasion.

Like his friend Tommy Burns he was a man of enormous faith, in its truest form, tolerant, generous of spirit, decent, kind and respectful.

No, he wasn't too good to be true. But JQ was a lovely man, a gentleman of great good humour, universally liked and respected.

His wife Kathleen and daughters Julie, Karen and Joanna were the light of his life.

Their guiding light may have gone out but they can be proud that John Quinn has left a shining memory.

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