It’s been ten years since Ireland’s Darren Sutherland brought home bronze at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
And it truly was the defining moment in a very promising young career. Performing on the world’s biggest stage, he managed to do his country proud by winning bronze and forever being marked as an Olympian.
Tragically, one year later, Darren took his own life at the age of 27.
During his rise through the amateur ranks, he fought modern-day top-10 super-middleweight boxer James Degale on five different occasions, beating him four times, but in their fifth and final matchup, the Englishman managed to get the win – going on to win the gold in the year Sutherland took home bronze.
Their rivalry was a truly memorable one and as a mark of respect to the late Irish boxer, Degale continues to wear shorts with the letters ‘DS’ on them.
Boxers who have medalled while wearing the Irish colours have generally gone on to enjoy fantastic careers in the pro-ranks and with Sutherland, it was no different.
Four wins and four KO’s stood as a promising start for the Dublin man but the true battle he fought was one that took place outside of the ring.
His death had a profound effect on the Irish sporting community and below, you can watch a beautiful tribute that does wonders at summing up the man behind the fighter.
It’s been ten years to the day since Sutherland won his bronze medal and looking back, it’s one of the sadder stories to emerge in boxing’s modern era.
Still though, it’s important to celebrate this young man’s career because the highs he reached are ones that upcoming boxers – even today – should be striving to hit.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena