Page last updated at 08:35 GMT, Tuesday, 15 September 2009 09:35 UK

Boxing star found dead by manager

Darren Sutherland
Darren Sutherland won a Middleweight bronze medal in Beijing

A medal-winning Irish Olympic boxer has been found dead by his manager at his flat in Bromley, south London.

Darren Sutherland, 27, who won a bronze medal at the 2008 Games in Beijing, was discovered on Monday by Frank Maloney.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman confirmed the death of Sutherland, who was found hanged, was not being treated as suspicious.

Irish Sports Minister Martin Cullen said: "Ireland has lost a sportsman of wonderful ability."

He added: "The tremendous effort and determination of this young man brought immense pride to Ireland in Beijing in 2008 when he joined a very select group of men who have won an Olympic medal for Ireland.

He was an excellent fighter and he was a gentleman outside the ring as well
James DeGale

"It takes work, effort, desire and dedication to be a champion - qualities Darren had in abundance."

Mr Cullen said Sutherland had grabbed the challenge of turning pro with great enthusiasm.

"Ireland has lost a sportsman of wonderful ability, a clever and popular man with a future of real potential," he said. "His early death deprives us of a magnificent talent."

Sutherland had trained with Brendan Ingle in Sheffield while in his teens but gave up the sport.

Austin O'Callaghan
Austin O'Callaghan, BBC Northern Ireland sports reporter
Any professional fighter will tell you that being a pro can be a lonely existence at times.

When you're an amateur you're always travelling with a team and surrounded by people.

Darren was such a positive, warm guy - the life and soul of the party.

He just attracted people to him and always seemed to have a positive outlook on life, which makes this news all the more tragic."

He returned to the ring in 2004 while studying sports science at Dublin City University.

After his success in Beijing, the fighter turned professional and joined the Maloney camp, winning his first fight in Dublin last December by knockout.

Britain's Olympic middleweight champion James DeGale, who beat Sutherland in Beijing, spoke of his shock at the Irishman's death.

"It is very, very sad news - I just can't believe it," he said.

"It is a tragedy. First and foremost, my heart goes out to his family. I just could not believe it; my heart went to the floor when I heard.

"He was a big part of my Olympic medal journey. I just do not know what to say except he was a brilliant fighter, in fact an excellent fighter. 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."

Phenomenal talent

Former world champion Barry McGuigan: "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."

In a statement, Mr Maloney said Sutherland's death was very sad and unexpected and a tragedy for Ireland and the world of boxing.

"At this sad time my thoughts are with Darren's family," he said.

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