Tragic Irish boxer Darren Sutherland ‘had felt abandoned’

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The Independent Online

Tragic boxer Darren Sutherland had lost confidence in himself and was due to see a top psychologist on the same evening he was found dead.

The Olympic medal winner “poured his heart out” to his trainer in London 10 days ago, telling him that he felt abandoned.

Friends and family had rallied around the 27-year-old, who was talking about quitting boxing, despite success in turning professional after scoring a bronze medal last year.

Trainer Brian Lawrence told how promoter Frank Maloney had arranged a session for Darren with a leading sports psychologist on Monday night.

But the rising star was found dead at his apartment in Bromley, south London, a few hours before the session was due to take place. Police are not treating his death as suspicious.

His devastated parents Tony and Linda, and younger sisters Nicole (20) and Shaneika (18) declined to comment on the tragedy when contacted at the family home in Navan, Co Meath, yesterday.

As they tried to come to terms with their grief, tributes poured in from the sporting and political worlds, and from fans and colleagues.

Mr Lawrence said: “The Friday before last he came into the gym and after training he poured his heart out to me, telling me that he's lost his confidence, and all these kind of things.

“He said he was really down, felt that he wanted to pack up boxing. This was the first time I'd heard anything about any of this from him. But I've heard about depression since then.”

When Darren did not attend scheduled sessions on Monday morning a number of people tried to contact him.

“I left messages on his phone, and eventually Frank and the other trainer went around to his house,” he added.

The boxer's car was in the garage but the blinds were drawn. After getting a second set of keys, Mr Maloney gained entrance and found Darren dead.

Mr Maloney — one of the best-known boxing promoters in England — was himself in hospital last night after suffering a minor heart attack. He is expected to make a full recovery.

The super middleweight turned professional late last year after winning bronze as a middleweight in Beijing in August and won his first four fights in some style.

However, he admitted in June that he wasn't finding the professional life easy.

Speaking at the time, Darren said: “It seems like I'm in one continuous training camp in London.

“Being away from home is very tough but this is a tough business and I know I have to make sacrifices to do well.”

After his last fight in late June his management team advised him to take a few weeks off. He travelled to Ireland but returned within a week.

Darren — who had won his four professional bouts and who was due to fight again on October 16 — did not train properly last week, despite generally being a hugely enthusiastic trainer.

“He was having these problems with what we now think was depression, but we were only realising what was going on with him,” Mr Lawrence said.

”We are absolutely devastated by what's happened to Darren. He was top notch.

“This kid would've been an absolute superstar. He had everything.”

* Source: Belfast Telegraph