An Olympic bronze medallist boxer talked about suicide and said he was “scared” of his manager Frank Maloney, his inquest has heard.
Darren Sutherland, who turned professional after winning bronze at the 2008 Beijing Games, was discovered dead at his home in Bromley, Kent, on Sept 14, 2009.
The 27-year-old Irishman was “stressed” about a cut under his eye that would not heal and whether he should give up boxing, the inquest at Croydon Coroner’s Court was told.
His friend Ismay Bourke said he was worried about possibly having to repay Mr Maloney £90,000 (€108,000) if he stopped fighting.
She said: “He was scared of Frank.”
The coroner, Dr Roy Palmer, asked: “He told you that?”
She answered: “Yes.”
Ms Bourke said Mr Maloney had told the fighter he had remortgaged his house for him and that Mr Sutherland believed he would “destroy him and his family” if he turned his back on his contract.
The medal winner was so worried he had an anxiety attack and could not sleep, said Ms Bourke.
She said three days before he was found dead, she accompanied Mr Sutherland to a fight night where they were front row spectators and where he was “distraught”.
“He was all over the place.
“He seemed really, really frightened, terrified...
“I said we don’t have to go and he said he had to go. Frank said he had to go and there would be trouble if he didn’t go.”
She said on their way back, Mr Sutherland said he “felt trapped and there was no way out”.
“He said he was thinking the only way out was to kill himself.
“I slapped him on the head and said ‘don’t say that’.”
The boxer later told her he “would never do such a thing”.
Mr Sutherland’s trainer, Bryan Lawrence, told the inquest it was up to the fighter, not Mr Maloney or Mr Sutherland, whether he fought, and that a fight scheduled for Oct 16 had been scrubbed because of Mr Sutherland’s eye injury, which was sustained during a fight on June 30.
Mr Lawrence, possibly the last person to speak to Mr Sutherland, said it would not have been a problem if he wanted to quit.
Breaking down in tears, he said Mr Sutherland was “a very complicated young man”.
“If it wasn’t the eye or something, it would have been something else.
“With Darren’s personality it would have been something else.
“His personality, he worried about everything.”
The inquest continues today.