Irish sport is in mourning tonight with the sad news that Olympic medallist Darren Sutherland is dead.
He won bronze at the Beijing Olympics following a top class quarter final win over Venezuelan middleweight Alfonso Blanco, an opponent who beat the Irishman at the 2007 World Championships in Chicago, but he lost his Olympic semi-final to England’s James DeGale.
However, Sutherland was guaranteed a bronze medal by virtue of reaching the semi finals.
Sutherland, Ken Egan and Paddy Barnes were the only Irish athletes to win medals at the 2008 Olympics.
Sutherland, who boxed at middleweight for Ireland as an amateur, died in his apartment in Bromley, London this afternoon.
The 27-year-old Dublin native, a member of St Saviour’s OBA in Dublin, claimed a bronze medal for Ireland at the 2008 Beijing Olympics He also won three Irish senior titles and two European Union gold medals.
Sutherland turned professional after Beijing and won his first four bouts as a pro, fighting out of Frank Maloney’s stable in London.
One of Sutherland’s greatest wins in the amateur ranks arrived at the 2007 European Union Championships at the National Stadium in Dublin.
Trailing by two points to England’s James DeGale in the 75Kg final, Sutherland turned it around in spectacular fashion in the final round to win by one point.
Darren was a good guy and he’ll be sadly missed by his friends and family.
It’s a terrible thing when people die so young. The tragedy hurts so many.
Former WBA World champ Barry McGuigan has described Darren Sutherland’s death as a tragedy. Dublin born Sutherland, nicknamed Dazzler, was found dead at his apartment in Bromley, south London, on Monday afternoon.
The 2008 Olympic bronze medalist was pronounced dead shortly after 3pm, a Metropolitan Police spokesman confirmed. The cause of his death was suicide by hanging. He was 27 years old.
His promoter and manager Frank Maloney was one of the first on the scene but was taken to hospital suffering from shock after entering the boxer’s apartment.
McGuigan said: It is an absolute tragedy. I would describe Darren as a phenomenal talent. I believe he would have become a world champion in the professional ranks one day.
The President of the Irish Amateur Boxing Association, Dominic O’Rourke led the tributes from the amateur code.
On behalf of the Irish Amateur Boxing Association I would like to express my condolences to Darren’s family. Our thoughts and prayers are with them at this moment.
Darren came up through the ranks with us. Even as a youngster you could see that he had the talent to go places.
He represented his country with distinction every time he stepped in the ring and he was very proud to be capped for Ireland at all levels. This is a tragic loss for Irish sport and we are all deeply saddened.
DeGale meanwhile, was full of priase for his former rival.
He was a big part of my Olympic medal journey, and it is just terrible. I just do not know what to say except that he was a brilliant fighter, in fact an excellent fighter, and he was a gentleman outside the ring as well.
He had an Olympic bronze medal, and his whole life to look forward to. He had a great future, and my heart goes out to everyone who knew him.
DeGale’s ex coach Terry Edwards added.
He was such a respectful guy outside the ring.When he lost to James in the Olympic semi-final he came straight over to the corner and shook our hands and told us we’d got our tactics right, and that was the mark of the man.
He was a very likeable lad and a total professional. He had a good pro style and I’m sure he would have gone all the way.
It’s such a tragedy – the world was his oyster.
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