BOXER Darren Sutherland wanted to quit boxing, it was revealed last night.
More than a month before he took his own life, he had told pals he ‘just wanted out’ but that he was torn between what he wanted and the prospect of letting both his family and his country down.
Ending his three-year contract with Frank Maloney would also have cost the 27-year-old – who was found hanging at his flat in Bromley on Monday, September 14 – dear.
Signed for around €130,000 last year by Lennox Lewis’ former manager, Darren would have made another €130,000 in prize money from his four pro fight wins.
He was expecting to use the money he had already earned to buy himself a flat in London.
But legal experts last night said he would have had to negotiate his way out of his contract with Maloney and this could well have been playing on his mind the night he killed himself.
A spokesman for Maloney said last night: ‘Frank is unavailable for comment about this. He is planning to make a full statement in a few days time.
‘Other than that there is nothing else he is prepared to comment on.’
In an emotional interview arranged on condition their name was not revealed, a friend said they had listened to Darren’s concerns about his career over a period of more than a month but had no idea he would end his life.
The friend said: ‘I knew Darren was upset about things because he started to open up about them around the end of July.
‘He was down about everything and he told me he felt he had to make a decision sooner rather than later because he didn’t want to let people down.
‘Darren basically told me one night that he wanted to get out of boxing.
‘He said he found the pressure so overwhelming from all sides and that he just didn’t feel he was up to the task of going all the way.
‘But he was torn on the whole subject and changed his mind a few times over the weeks leading up to his death.
‘He didn’t want to let down his family, especially his father.
‘He also didn’t want to return to Ireland a failure. He was also confused about his feelings towards the sport because he loved boxing.
‘His confidence had just slipped and he couldn’t get himself back on track.’
The friend added: ‘One of Darren’s biggest problems with the decision to quit was what to say to Frank Maloney.
‘Frank had given him everything he wanted but he just felt bad about wanting to walk away.’
On Friday night, his father mentioned on the RTE’s Late Late show for the first time that his son had been relieved that a planned fight had been called off.
Tony Sutherland told how his son called him two days Jamie Moore’s European lightweight title defence fight against Jimmy Colas on July 24 to say that it had been cancelled.
Darren had been on the bill as a replacement to a July 10 bout in Sunderland that he had had to pull out of because of a cut he sustained just below his eye in his June 30 victory at York Hall against Gennadiy Raselev.
Tony told Ryan Tubridy: ‘He had a fight coming up and the cut was still there. And he was still anxious over the cut.
‘We had already bought our tickets for the fight on the 24th.
‘Darren rang two or three days before the fight and said the fight was off, and he said “ain’t I lucky?”.’
Tony, who appeared stunned by what his son had told him added: ‘Since Darren was boxing from 15 years of age to that day, I’ve never once heard Darren say he was glad not to be in a fight.’
The friend who Darren confided in said: ‘Darren knew long before he phoned his dad that he wasn’t going to fight.
‘But he agonised about telling him.
‘The night he found out, he was so relieved because he was really concerned about his eye.
‘It had been damaged in one of his fights and he just didn’t want to fight in case it got any worse.
‘I think it took him about a week before he could bring himself to call his father and tell him.’
The friend added: ‘He was embarrassed but he was also relieved.’
Yesterday, it was revealed by The Irish Mail on Sunday that detectives in the UK are trying to trace Darren’s movements on the night before he died.
He is believed to have left his flat at around 5.30pm and not returned until about 11pm that evening.
Every member of Frank Maloney’s management team have been asked to make statements by UK police, probing the death of the boxer in advance of the inquest being re-opened.
Before he left his flat, he had a three-hour conversation with his father, Tony, during which he was ‘in good form’.
Two days previously, he had had an argument with his mother – although family members say they patched matters up shortly afterwards.