Cliff is a Canadian ex World Champion snooker legend. He won the World Snooker Championship in 1980, defeating Alex Higgins 18–16 in the final to become the first world champion in the sport’s modern era from outside the United Kingdom.
Thorburn was runner-up in two other World Championships, losing 21–25 to John Spencer in the 1977 final (the first ever played at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre) and 6–18 to Steve Davis in the 1983 final. One of his most celebrated moments came during his second-round encounter with Terry Griffiths in 1983, when he became the first player to compile a maximum break in a World Championship match. He was the second player (after Davis) to make a 147 break in professional competition.
Thorburn’s other notable achievements include holding the number one ranking during the 1981–82 season and winning the prestigious invitational Masters three times, in 1983, 1985, and 1986. This made him the first player to win the Masters more than once and the first to retain the title.
Cliff is now coach of the Canadian Cue Sports, a regular on the Seniors World Championship and World Seniors ambassador.