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Snooker star dies aged 61 after accident at home

In Europe
May 15, 2024

Snooker star Dene O’Kane has died in a tragic accident at his home in New Zealand. The sportsman – hailed as “the greatest New Zealander to pick up a cue” – was 61.

O’Kane died in Auckland Hospital on Tuesday after suffering a fall at his home on Waiheke Island. The household name reportedly fell at his home earlier this week and died in hospital yesterday, according to the New Zealand Herald.

O’Kane reached a career-best ranking of world No. 18 in 1991/92, remaining in the top 32 until 1996. He retired from the sport with earnings of £415,000 in 2007.

The 61-year-old later became a real estate agent but he continued playing snooker as a senior and featured in exhibition tournaments all over the world.

He played exhibition events alongside the likes of Stephen Hendry, Steve Davis and Dennis Taylor. His secretary, Bernie Endres, told the Herald following O’Kane’s death: ”I remember talking to Dennis Taylor and he was going on about how much he admired Dene. He talked of how difficult it was for those guys in the UK to break through to the pro circuit let alone for someone from a country at the bottom of the planet. Someone who had left home at his age, with no money to survive and to make it on the pro-circuit.”

Reflecting on his career two years ago, O’Kane said: “It could always have been better, that’s what I say. But when you’re up there at the top, you’ve just got to get what you grab, what you can and I had some very, very good years on the pro tour.”

O’Kane arrived in the UK at the age of 17 with a promising reputation as an amateur and New Zealand champion. O’Kane won 10 New Zealand titles, two Australian opens, two Oceania championships as well as three World Masters Championships in 2004, 2005 and 2008. Endres said: “He was always great company, a real character.”

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