Doug Mountjoy, pictured here in 1999, gave up his career as a miner to become a professional snooker player.
Doug Mountjoy, one of Wales’ greatest snooker players, has died at the age of 78.
In 1981 he came second at the World Championships, one of only six Welshmen to make it to the biggest snooker event.
The former miner could have won more tournaments, but he didn’t turn pro until he was 34.
Mountjoy began his professional career by winning the 1977 Masters and is one of only four players from Wales to have won the British Championship.
Mountjoy was born on the 8th. Born in Tir y Bertha near Caerphilly in June 1942, he grew up near Ebbw Vale in Blaenau Gwent.
During his formative years, Mountjoy was a well-known amateur snooker player in clubs, but could not bring the sport to prominence because of his career as a miner.
Mountjoy won many amateur tournaments and was twice amateur champion of Wales before winning the greatest honour, the world amateur title in 1976, by beating Paul Mifsud 11-1.
A year later he turned pro and after a late abandonment to replace the 1977 Masters, Mountjoy turned pro with a stunning 7-6 victory over reigning world champion Ray Reardon in the final.
Another success would come in 1978 when he became British champion, beating David Taylor in the final 15:9.
Mountjoy won the 1980 Tournament of Champions by beating John Maiden 10-8 in the final, and along with Terry Griffiths and Reardon won the first two Snooker World Cups for Wales in 1979 and 1980.
At the 1981 World Championships, Mountjoy reached the final in Sheffield but was beaten 18-12 by a young Steve Davies, winning the first of his six Crucible titles.
Mountjoy fell into the world’s top 16 when titles stalled for a while, but he resumed his game and career in the late 1980s after working with famed coach Frank Callan.
Mountjoy was the surprise winner of the 1988 British Championship at the age of 46 when he beat seven-time world champion Stephen Hendry 16-12 in the final.
He was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1993, and that year he made his final appearance in the world finals. He defeated Allen Robida 10-6 in the first round, a few weeks before undergoing surgery to remove his left lung.
He recovered and remained on the track until 1997 before continuing to train.
A true champion and a gentleman
One of Mountjoy’s friends who plays modern-day Cliff Thorburn said: So sad to hear of the passing of Doug Mountjoy today.
He was a true champion and a gentleman. He had everything he needed and the heart of a lion. They knew he was in the laughing room and I brought good luck to Doug!
My condolences to his family and friends.
Another former world champion, Dennis Taylor, said: I have just learned the sad news of the passing of one of our legends.
Doug Mountjoy is a very special Welshman. RIP, my best friend.
In a joint statement, World Snooker Tour president Barry Hearn and World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association president Jason Ferguson said the following: Doug was first and foremost a good guy who befriended many of the touring players in the 1970s and beyond.
He was very dedicated to our sport, just loved the game and was always willing to help others improve, both as a player and later as a coach.
At the table he was a tough competitor and a good champion, winning many tournaments.
His resurgence at the end of his career, winning two tournaments, including the British Championship, is an incredible achievement.
Doug will be greatly missed by all who knew him and we extend our sincere condolences to his family.
A tribute to Mountjoy was also paid by some of the biggest figures in the sport were posted on social media, including Jimmy White.