'Legend', John Quinn, Dies, Aged 74

A former football and boxing correspondent of the Evening Times – who could count Sugar Ray Robinson and Muhammad Ali as friends; famously coined the name, 'Bible John', to describe an infamous Glasgow murderer; and drove a green-and-white-painted car to Portugal to witness Celtic's European Cup win in 1967 – has died. 

Reports the paper, John Quinn “passed away peacefully this morning in the Royal Infirmary after a long battle with illness, his family at his side”. He was aged 74.

He worked with the Times for 34 years before his retirement in 1997.

The newspaper continues: “[Quinn] had started as a news reporter, later becoming news editor, and made his own headlines in the late 1960s, coining the name, Bible John, for the infamous murderer who was terrorising women in the city.

“The son of a pro boxer, he was recognised as the most authoritative voice on the sport in the country.

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

“He also reported on the major football stories in the city and famously drove a green and white Hillman Imp to Lisbon to report for the Times on Celtic’s European Cup triumph.”

Evening Times editor, Tony Carlin, is quoted, as saying: “John was a legend who was always willing to give others the benefit of his experience.”

There is to be a Requiem Mass for John, at St Bridget’s Church in Ballieston, Glasgow, on Tuesday, at 9.30am. 

Send your tributes here, to info@allmediascotland.com, or leave a comment, below.

“John was a star news reporter when I joined the Evening Times as a copy boy in 1966, and I often acted as his phone boy at boxing tournaments. One which stands out in my memory was when Scotland and the Soviet Union had an international amateur contest at the Kelvin Hall. John correctly identified Tom Imrie as being the only Scot who would win a bout

He and I often met ringside at Wembley Arena and the Albert Hall in the late 70s and early 80s when I was covering big fight nights for the Birmingham Post, and I continued to benefit from his astute eye and kind advice.

Later, when I returned to Scotland, John was on the football beat, and it was a pleasure to talk to a true Christian, who carried his sincere beliefs with a quiet dignity which led to him always looking for the best in people.

The last time I saw him was a few years ago when I was walking along the Strip in Las Vegas and heard a Scottish voice calling, 'Davie.' It was as much a pleasure to bump into John there as it had been on wet and windy days at Broomfield or Love Street.

Nobody who came into contact with John Quinn had a bad word to say about a fine man, and an outstanding journalist.

He was nicknamed, with gentle affection, 'Father John', but I preferred to think of him of being worthy of the sobriquet attached to a boxing legend from the 19th century. For me, he will always be … GENTLEMAN JOHN QUINN!” 

David Leggat

“I've never heard a bad word about John Quinn, and I know I never will now that he has sadly passed on.

“He did have a few words for me when I drove him to Tannadice one evening for a Celtic game, but only in as much as he wondered when the stewardess might be round to serve the in-flight meal!

John was one of the best. Those who worked with or knew ‘JQ’ would say the same. He was genuine, respected, helpful, and someone who in terms of Scottish journalism, made his mark, as witnessed by his unique trip to Lisbon and his labelling of ‘Bible John'. And least we forget ‘Jungle Tales,’ still one of the best football fan books written.

I worked alongside John at the Evening Times in the early '90s and learned a helluva lot from him, and about him, especially his standing in football and boxing.

He was knowledgeable, respected and, above everything, well known. When boxing names from the south visited Glasgow, almost to a man they knew who John was.

And if they didn’t, they soon found out. Take Chris Eubank for instance.

In September 1992 (the same month as the famous ‘Pink’ disappeared), Eubank was in Glasgow to fight Tony Thornton, topping the bill on a Tommy Gilmour/Barry Hearn spectacular that also featured Scotland’s reigning world champion, Pat Clinton, against Danny Porter.

Ahead of the fight, Eubank was in Glasgow and was doing some fundraising for Michael Watson, tragically damaged when the two had fought the previous year. A deal was done where Eubank would do a fashion shoot for the Evening Times, waiving his fee if the paper contributed it to the charity.

So, the finest designs from Armani and Versace were collected from the Italian Centre, with Mr Eubank playing along as a model until he tried on one particular jacket.

Making sure his pose was just right, including his wristwatch being prominent, Chris commented that 'thith coat ith a perfect fit, don’t you think John?'

John agreed, but Eubank then had the notion that the jacket might become his, as part-payment for donating his fee to charity.

John said no, Eubank thought differently and thought John might ask on his behalf if he could take the jacket as a gift.

They had reached an impasse, until JQ suggested to the world super-middleweight champion, all 12-stones of this rippling, muscle-bulging hulk, that he might want to hand the jacket back now or he 'wouldn’t see Saturday night!'

'I do believe you are not joking John,' said the reluctant Eubank as he gave it back. And peace was restored.

If John won that contest, sadly he lost his last battle, although in recent months he showed as much courage, if not more, than many of the champions and winners he so brilliantly wrote about, getting up to fight on, before, as he might have put it himself, the ‘big referee stepped in'.

My thoughts go to his wife Kathleen and the girls Julie, Karen and Joanna at this sad time, though they will know he is now at peace. And I shall toast his memory with ‘a wee Remy’.

Stewart Weir

“I was a copy boy at the Evening Times on that Saturday of the final Pink and JQ -I never dared call him that until much later when I was a 'proper' reporter – allowed me to phone in his match report from Broomfield where Airdrie and Celtic were playing.

It was a huge thrill and he put me through a double payment because I had apparently done such a good job. That, to me, summed up the great man.

JQ just thought he was doing the young laddie a turn by putting a few more bob his way. But it was just another random act of kindness from the nicest man I ever met in journalism and it meant the world to me at the time.

I think I speak for all the younger guys who came after JQ, especially at the Evening Times, when I say he was a real hero to us all and it was an absolute pleasure to know him.

My thoughts are with John’s family and his many, many friends. Like Sweir, I will raise a glass to him this evening.”

Neil Cameron

“For once, the word 'legend' is apposite.”

Martin Hannan

“John Quinn was a really kind man always willing to offer help and advice to younger sports reporters.

When I was starting out I had the privilege of covering Scottish boxing in a great era headlined by Ken Buchanan, Jim Watt and some terrific amateurs.

John, along with Dick Currie, the late George Harkness and others were guys you could really look up to and whose company it was an always a pleasure to be in.

I had no idea about John's eminent background in news gathering. It was all sport, sport, sport … clearly he was very modest and a real gentleman.”

Bill Lothian, Edinburgh Evening News

“John Quinn was a familiar and friendly face around Scottish boxing when our paths first crossed in the 1960s wen I was a member of the Scottish amateur team.

John, likeable, knowledgeable and helpful in equal measure was always a source of great encouragement on our frequent meetings when Scotland faced the best international teams in the world – usually those from the Easter Bloc countries – and during the period when I was chief sparring partner to Walter McGowan for most of his major championship fights.

John was a man of great integrity, an affable personality and one who did his job with the confidence gained over many years of news and sports reporting.”

Frank Gilfeather

“A legend and a true Celtic FC supporter. R
est in peace, John Bhoy. God bless you.”

Michael Mullin