Such has been the spate of untimely deaths in boxing lately that one is naturally inclined to search for some correlation, for some inherent rottenness that underpins all this. But whether this is so or it's mere statistical happenstance, what is fundamentally true is that each of these deaths is its own discrete tragedy. And when, as with Darren Sutherland, it comes through suicide, there is an ultimate inscrutability to it, an unresolvable enigma.
Sutherland charmed the nation at last year's Olympic Games. Bringing home a medal will in itself do that in a country where such an achievement is rare. (Sutherland was one of three Irish boxers to win medals in Beijing, a remarkable haul.) But more than that, his charisma was obvious: a modest charisma, at once embodying confidence and courtesy — there was no side to him — and all delivered in a beguilingly unique accent, the product of an upbringing divided between St. Vincent and Meath. And it appears that Sutherland was one of those figures whose public image tallied with the private reality, as the many generous tributes to him today have demonstrated.
One such tribute came from James DeGale. It was DeGale who beat Sutherland in the middleweight semi-finals last year. Both fighters turned professional after the Games, and the pair were destined, so we thought, to renew their rivalry in a pro ring — maybe even in a title fight. Said DeGale: "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."
May he rest in peace.