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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 October 2006, 10:51 GMT 11:51 UK
Hunter loss shocks snooker

By Saj Chowdhury

The tragic loss of Paul Hunter to cancer will have an immeasurable impact on snooker.

Michael Holt and Paul Hunter
Holt played Hunter in the first round at the Crucible in 2005

His career was cut short at a time when he was establishing himself as a major force in the game.

The 27-year-old from Leeds won three Masters titles and showed signs he had the potential to the win the World Championship, narrowly missing out on a final berth three years ago when he was beaten 17-16 by Ken Doherty.

But to many players on the circuit, Yorkshire's darling of the green baize was not only an impressive player but a humble man.

Michael Holt rose through the ranks with Hunter and considered him a good friend.

"I found out the news about Paul when I got a text from his friends late on Monday," the 28-year-old told BBC Sport.

"I knew he was ill, but it still came as a shock.

He was honest, down-to-earth and a fighter

Michael Holt

"I've lost a friend. He was such a great lad, he had everything. When he was diagnosed with cancer, it was a massive shock.

"He was a player like he was a person. He was honest, down-to-earth and a fighter. Some of his performances in matches, when he came back from deficits, showed that. I just can't believe he's gone."

It was revealed Hunter had stomach cancer in April 2005 but the former world number four vowed to play on until deciding this July to take a year's break, with permission from the sport's governing body, World Snooker.

He endured several exhausting sessions of chemotherapy from the moment he was diagnosed, but that left him weak and unable to compete at his best, winning just one match last season.


Hunter dropped from five to 34 in the world rankings before it was decided that a freeze would be put on his position while he took time out to recover.

Holt, who knocked Hunter out the 2005 World Championship, said the tragedy would have a big effect on the rest of the snooker season.

"The Grand Prix this month is going to be a bit of a sad affair and I think the mood will be very different from now on," he said.

"Paul was always chirpy and a laugh around the circuit, so he'll be sorely missed."

The Nottingham star began competing in events at a similar time to Hunter and was impressed with him from an early age.

Michael Holt and Paul Hunter
Holt (left) recognised Hunter's potential

"I met Paul for the first time on the junior circuit. In fact, he won the first ever junior tournament I played in, which was in Leicester," he said.

"He began playing before me, so he had established himself as the best.

"Paul had a reason to be cocky and arrogant but he was never like that. He was just a normal lad which makes this all the more difficult.

"Paul was one of the lads, he'd be down the pub on a Friday night. And he said he'd still enjoy himself after winning the World Championship, which I think he would have done because he had that winning mentality."

Holt added: "In time, snooker will pay a fitting tribute to him. I don't think anything will do his loss justice, but I'm sure there will be something for him."

World Snooker told BBC Sport they were considering an appropriate tribute for Hunter and that a decision would be made in the "next few weeks".

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17 Apr 06 |  Snooker
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13 Jan 06 |  Snooker
Hunter is diagnosed with cancer
06 Apr 05 |  Snooker
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16 Apr 03 |  Snooker

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