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Why was Olympic boxer found hanged?

PUBLISHED: 11:32 17 September 2009 | UPDATED: 17:10 25 August 2010

OLYMPIAN: Frank Maloney with Darren Sutherland, who was found dead at his flat in Bromley.

OLYMPIAN: Frank Maloney with Darren Sutherland, who was found dead at his flat in Bromley.

OLYMPIC boxer Darren Sutherland had been in good spirits just days before his apparent suicide, writes Kate Nelson

OLYMPIC boxer Darren Sutherland had been in 'good spirits' just days before his apparent suicide, writes Kate Nelson.

Tracey Maloney, 42, made the comment after inviting the Times into her Chislehurst home to pay tribute to Mr Sutherland who was found hanged by her husband Frank at a flat in Bromley on Monday afternoon.

The Dublin-born middleweight boxer, pictured right, who took bronze for Ireland in the Beijing games last year, lived in the Maloney family home for four months when he first arrived in England in October last year.

He became a close friend and spent last Friday and Saturday night with the couple and their two daughters.

Father-of-two Mr Maloney, 55, who runs Maloney Promotions and worked with Lennox Lewis while he was heavyweight champion, suffered a minor heart attack after making the shock discovery of his young protégé.

His wife said he is recovering well and was due to be discharged from hospital at the end of this week.

Having just returned from her husband's bedside Mrs Maloney said: "We are absolutely devastated. Nobody could have predicted what was going to happen. We are distraught.

"Darren watched the McDermott fight with Frank on Friday then he came round here on Saturday- we had a Chinese and watched X-Factor.

"He was a bit quiet when he arrived, he seemed a bit down but I'd definitely say he left in good spirits at about 10.30pm. He was cracking jokes with the children before he went and he promised to come round for dinner this week."

The part-time air hostess said the young boxing star had settled in well in the Bromley area and planned on staying long-term.

She said: "He loved London - he said he wanted to make his main home here. He particularly liked it in Bromley and Chislehurst but he had friends in London from all walks of life, from boxing, from Ireland.

"Darren lived with us for about four months when he first arrived because he said he would rather live with the family to get settled. He was perfectly happy here. Then he moved to his own flat in Bromley at the beginning of February.

"He had a good sense of humour and he loved going out and about. He loved music and computer games. Darren got on with everyone. It couldn't have happened to a nicer person - it's a total shock."

The mother-of-two said the Olympian had not seemed under any particular professional pressure and had a close relationship with his family.

She added: "He'd had four professional fights and looked brilliant. His next one was in October but he was not unduly worried about his opponent. He had the brightest future ahead of him - he was world class. He had so much talent, it's such a waste.

"His mum and dad came over to watch every fight. Darren was very close to his family, to his parents and his two younger sisters.

"Frank was over the moon that he signed him. He definitely thought he was the best of the Olympians. They had a good understanding of each other, Darren said he hadn't had that with any other promoter. They got on very well."

Boxer Gary Woolcombe, 27, of Queen's Road, Welling, who is also signed to Maloney Promotions, told the Times: "Darren had everything going for him, he was a superstar. He was offered a fortune. The last time I saw him was in York Hall in Bethnal Green for a fight a couple of months ago.

"I asked him how he training was going, when his next fight was and so on. He didn't seem unhappy in himself, he seemed fine. My thoughts are with his family, God rest his soul."

Mr Sutherland was due to finish a Sports Science degree in Dublin next year. That, coupled with his bright boxing future has left many bemused as to what motivated him to take his own life.

A friend of the boxer and Mr Maloney, who wanted to remain anonymous, said he was baffled by his death, adding: "He was a nice guy and the best fighter I'd ever seen. He was definitely going to be a world champion.

"It is absolutely shocking. So many people had such high hopes for him, he really was the real deal, a shining light of boxing, and will be sadly missed by everyone - friends and fans alike."

Former Southern Area champion David Walker from Sidcup, who was known as Kid Dynamite, also paid tribute and expressed his surprise at the sad news.

He said: "He was the best Olympian. It is such a shame. I met him a couple of times and he seemed like a happy chappy. He came across as a gent. He was unbeaten as a pro and he could have gone to the top.

"When I used to see him on telly, he was great. He was so good for boxing. And poor Frank Maloney, he's had a shock. God knows what goes through a young man's mind.

"It's shocked the whole boxing world. He had the world at his feet. I retired because of a torn iris but I'm still a big follower of boxing and he was one of the best I had seen."

Mrs Maloney said Mr Sutherland's parents were expected to fly from their home in Dublin to visit their son's flat on Tuesday afternoon.

kate.nelson@archant.co.uk

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