Qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1970, Hearn spent several years in international accountants before moving into the commercial world. After a period in the fashion industry and property development, he became chairman of Lucania Snooker Clubs in 1974 and began to involve the snooker hall chain in amateur tournament promotions.
In 1976 Steve Davis began playing at the Romford Lucania Club and the two struck up a friendship which was to have a major influence on the world of snooker. In 1982 Riley Leisure acquired the chain of Lucania Snooker Clubs for £3.1 million leaving Barry free to concentrate on the development of snooker, both in the UK and overseas. With the support of the Matchroom professional players, Barry promoted snooker all over the world and has been particularly instrumental in the development of the game in the Far East.
Barry began his involvement in big time boxing by going straight in at the deep end - staging the Joe Bugner v Frank Bruno heavyweight show-down at White Hart Lane Stadium in 1987. Since then the Matchroom Boxing stable has risen to the top in both Britain and Europe, staging over fifty promotions throughout the season, including British, Commonwealth, European and World Championship bouts.
Together with Sky, who televise many of Matchroom Sport’s shows, Barry has helped discover and develop such champions as Chris Eubank, Nigel Benn, Herbie Hide, Carl Crook, Francis Ampofo, Steve Collins, Jim McDonnell and Eamonn Loughran.
Hearn then set his sights on other immensely popular but less well known sports. Barry promotes the world’s richest coarse fishing match - Fish'O'Mania - live on Sky Sports for six hours and now entering its ninth year.
Barry has helped develop the game of pool from a pub game into a huge TV sport, and the success of the annual Mosconi Cup Europe v America match and the World Pool Championship is a testament to the progress that has been made. Matchroom Sport is also strong in international televised tenpin bowling, bowls and golf, where they own and operate the PGA Europro, Europe’s leading developmental tour.
In addition, Barry has also developed poker into a viable live TV draw with the running of Poker Million, the first edition of which took place in November 2000. Since then poker has exploded as a TV attraction to tie in with the huge growth in online poker sites. Matchroom Sport now produces over 250 hours of original poker programming.
In March 1995, Barry Hearn assumed a controlling interest in Leyton Orient FC, rebuilding most of the stadium and as the team gained automatic promotion to League One in 2005/06.
The PDC is one of the sports business’s biggest success stories over the past decade. Darts is one of the biggest rating sports on UK TV and is now spreading its unique brand across Europe and into Asia.
Finally, returning to his roots in December 2009, Barry was voted in as Chairman of World Snooker and has since assumed a leading role as the revitalisation of the sport goes from strength to strength.
Over the years, Barry Hearn's Matchroom Sport organisation has grown into one of the world’s most prolific independent sports promotion and television companies, producing nearly 2,000 hours of original material each year.