Dene O'Kane: New Zealand snooker champion died after a fall at home aged 61

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New Zealand snooker champion Dene O’Kane has died aged 61

Snooker champion Dene O’Kane has died aged 61 after reportedly suffering a fall at his home in New Zealand. The sportsman died following the incident that took place at his home on Waiheke Island.

The snooker champion rose to popularity in the 1980s, when he made the sport's top 20 worldwide. He became a professional player in 1984 and won the New Zealand snooker championship at the age of 17.

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Determined to pursue his ambition, he travelled to the UK and competed against well-known players such as Steve Davis and Jimmy White. Throughout his career, he won numerous titles, including 10 in New Zealand, two Australian Opens, and two Oceania Championships, rising to a career-high position of 18th worldwide.

New Zealand snooker champion Dene O’Kane has died aged 61New Zealand snooker champion Dene O’Kane has died aged 61
New Zealand snooker champion Dene O’Kane has died aged 61 | Bob Thomas Sports Photography vi

He also won three World Masters Championships in 2004, 2005, and 2008, which added to his impressive record. Throughout his professional career, he earned a respectable £415,000.

Speaking in 2022 to local outlet, Stuff, O'Kane said: "You go through a lot, internally. Mentally and emotionally. But you just have to overcome those feelings and thoughts. It's almost like there's a wall of pressure, and either you break through it and play well or you succumb to it."

World Snooker Tribute said it was ‘saddened’ by the news of his passing. It said on X: “WST are extremely saddened by the news of Dene O’Kane’s passing at the age of 61. New Zealand’s finest on the baize, he reached two World Championship quarter-finals in 1987 and 1992.”

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Fellow snooker champ John Virgo also paid tribute to his friend, saying: “Just heard the sad news that New Zealand snooker champion Dene O’Kane has passed away. Lovely man and did a great job keeping snooker alive in his country, practiced with him a lot when he was in the UK. Good player and friend. RIP.”

TV snooker commentator David Hendon described O’Kane as an “articulate, thoughtful man”. He posted on X: “Sad to hear of the passing of Dene O'Kane, New Zealand's greatest ever player and twice WC quarter-finalist. An elegant, articulate, thoughtful man - he once wore an anti-nuclear sticker on his waistcoat to protest the French government's nuclear testing in the Pacific atolls.”

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