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Punch Founder Dies After Heart Attack: Tabloid Journalist Often Drew Anger From Politicians

Ivan Johnson, founder of The Punch tabloid, who died aged 68. He is pictured in 2018 receiving his Pioneer Award from the Bahamas Press Club. Photo: Press Club

Ivan Johnson, founder of The Punch tabloid, who died aged 68. He is pictured in 2018 receiving his Pioneer Award from the Bahamas Press Club. Photo: Press Club

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Senior Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

IVAN Johnson, the founder of The Punch tabloid, died in hospital yesterday at the age of 68 after suffering a heart attack.

Mr Johnson was rushed to Doctors Hospital after the heart attack yesterday morning, where he was put on life support but died yesterday evening.

In a Facebook post last night, The Punch said: “Rest In Peace Ivan Nicholas Johnson.”

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Mr Johnson was a force in Bahamian media for decades and The Bahamas Press Club honoured him for his contributions in 2018 with the Pioneer Award for his newspaper publication.

His publication frequently drew the ire of politicians for stories and allegations published about them.

According to The Bahamas Press Club, he was educated at Queen’s College and at the Seaford Court Preparatory School at Malvern Link, Worcestershire.

Mr Johnson was a former professional, all-rounder, English first-class cricketer. During the English country cricket off-season winter months, he was employed as a trainee reporter at The Tribune.

The Bahamas Press Club wrote in 2018: “In October 1975, Johnson became a trainee journalist with Thomson Newspapers, owned by Lord Thomson of Fleet. He worked at the Hemel Hempstead Evening Post-Echo and studied at the Harlow College of Journalism in Essex. This training was followed by one year’s cadetship at Reuters.

“Johnson returned to Nassau in 1976. At The Tribune, two chief reporters had quit without warning. Johnson agreed to act as the newspaper’s chief reporter up to the 1977 general election.

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IVAN Johnson in his days as a cricketer.

“In October 1976, Johnson clashed with the Progressive Liberal Party leader, Prime Minister Lynden Pindling, during the ZNS-TV radio programme, Contact. Contact was a monthly, live broadcast where Sir Lynden was questioned by journalists. Sir Lynden became angry when answering Johnson’s questions. In November 1976, Sir Lynden refused to appear with Johnson. Johnson continued to goad Sir Lynden in The Tribune. After the 1977 election, Johnson returned to England and in 1979, he gained employment at The London Sun newspaper as a staff sub-editor.

“In 1985, Johnson was seconded to Australia and worked as a sub-editor at The Daily Mirror (Australia), The Townsville Bulletin and The Sunday Times (Western Australia). In 1987, Johnson again returned to London. He worked as a freelance sub-editor for the London Sun, News of the World and The Sunday Times before gaining employment as a staff sub-editor at the Daily Star.”

In August 1989, he returned to The Bahamas and in February 1990 launched The Punch.

“In 1992, on the morning of election day, The Punch ran a headline predicting the Free National Movement win over Progressive Liberal Party by 32 seats to 17. The tabloid was hence called The Prophet Punch,” the Press Club said.

“To his credit, Johnson is the first and only Bahamian to have played professional cricket at the first-class and junior test cricket level.”

 He was the son of the late Basil Johnson, CNE, a World War 11 flight sergeant - the only black Bahamian to fly in the British Royal Air Force during World War 11. His mother was from England. 

Comments

John 1 week, 5 days ago

Wow. What a blow… for someone well liked and much not liked. But someone who was definitely fearless and steadfast. RIP!

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B_I_D___ 1 week, 4 days ago

Here's to never pulling any Punch's Ivan...you have truly left your mark in Bahamian culture and history. R.I.P.

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buddah17 1 week, 4 days ago

Ivan was a man both loved and loathed by The Bahamian pseople.. But his paper was compelling and frank, and people use to line up to buy (or borrow) the weekly issue when it came out... One must say that he stood up for his beliefs and ideals and it is surprising to find out (just now) that he was also a professional cricketeer... And his father seemed to be quite a man as well, flying missions in WW ll for England. RIP Ivan, you (and your editorials) will be missed

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quavaduff 1 week, 4 days ago

The Bahamas has lost a great one. RIP

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DDK 1 week, 4 days ago

A sad loss. What a guy! Rest in peace, Ivan.

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Alan1 1 week, 4 days ago

I am very saddened to read of his passing. He was very talented both in sports and journalism. He is a great role model for our younger generation in his determination to go ahead just like his Father who served The Bahamas and The Commonwealth in dedicated military service during World War Two. All the Johnson family are very talented Bahamians. We shall really miss Ivan's presence in the newspaper world.

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