Barry Hearn, credited with playing a big part in the commercial success of darts and snooker, has been awarded an OBE for services to sport.
The 72-year-old from Chelmsford in Essex is the chairman of Matchroom Sport, a company which owns, produces and promotes 12 sports.
He became chairman of the Professional Darts Corporation in 2001 and has overseen an explosion in interest in the sport and helped boost prize money to record levels, while Matchroom is also one of the major promoters in boxing with Anthony Joshua, Katie Taylor and Josh Warrington part of its stable.
Hearn said: “I’m incredibly proud to have been awarded an OBE. It has been a great joy to be involved in such a wide range of sports for over 40 years, and to be recognised for that work is an honour.
“I’ve been lucky enough to work with some of the greatest players ever to play in their sport from Steve Davis to Phil Taylor to Chris Eubank, and I’ve got so many wonderful memories.
“Alongside those elite players though, I’ve always tried to create pathways and opportunities for people to reach the very top of their chosen sport and change their life in the process.
“This award is also a recognition for the hard-working, creative and dedicated staff I work with at Matchroom Sport and in our chosen sports, who share my vision and help to bring our events to reality.
“A passion for sport has been a mantra for us all at Matchroom, and I’m so fortunate to have enjoyed such a wonderful time across the last four decades.”
Hearn started out as a chartered accountant and his first significant role in sport was to manage snooker player Steve Davis.
Hearn is also the president of League Two football club Leyton Orient.
He has encountered some health issues in 2020, suffering what was described as a minor heart attack in April and then testing positive for coronavirus in October, just days after son Eddie also tested positive.
“We can’t go ‘one day this, one day that’ forever,” he told talkSPORT.
“We have either got to say ‘close the lot or open it’. You can’t have a world of inconsistency because people don’t know where they are and that involves sport.
“I am getting very frustrated, we are doing all the work and then getting slapped in the face.”