In a brilliant interview with StarSport's Chris McKenna, British world title challenger James DeGale revealed a touching tribute to his friend and former Olympic foe, the late Irish Olympic boxer Darren Sutherland.
2008 gold medallist DeGale is a divisive figure in British sport, but one of the most talented fighters of his generation. Though not previously universally lauded in Ireland either, McKenna's discovery that the slick super-middleweight has represented the late Sutherland on his trunks since the Dubliner's tragic death in 2009 has certainly changed a few tunes.
DeGale told McKenna and The Star:
It was so sad to hear about it. To put his initials on my shorts was just a bit of respect for him and his family who must have found it so hard.
We were rivals as amateurs but we had a lot of respect for each other. When I’m going to be world champion, he is going to be world champion.We are going to lift this together. Maybe it is just his initials on my shorts but we will do it together.
Irish Twitter reacted accordingly to DeGale's classy gesture:
@ballsdotie@jamesdegale1@mjavfc1 nice touch from Mr. Degale
— gav gallo (@ggy04) May 13, 2015
I'm all in on @jamesdegale1 now. Nicest, quietest, gesture I've seen in sport in years http://t.co/AiiBFvxGbR (via @ballsdotie ) — Dodge (@seidodge) May 13, 2015
@jamesdegale1 Good for you sir, good for you!! ???????? http://t.co/yBUkx9qZEa #dazzler — Barry McGonigle (@BarryMcGonigle_) May 12, 2015
Touch of class from James DeGale. DeGale Reveals Classy Tribute To Late Irish Boxer Sutherland Balls.ie http://t.co/e3t21xZN91
— Gareth Williams (@TaxMadeEazy) May 12, 2015
Smashing from DeGale. Was in same year in college with Sutherland's sister when he passed. Was awful. What a boxer. https://t.co/OnX4A873jq
— Cian Carroll (@CianByName) May 12, 2015
Class touch from James DeGale remembering Darren Sutherland https://t.co/E24UVwPwwe — EB Goalkeeping (@ebgoalkeeping) May 12, 2015
DeGale's tribute to the man he faced six times as an amateur seemed to change plenty of Irish opinions over on Balls' Facebook, too:
'Chunky' won't be short of a pint should he decides to stop off with his new belt in a couple of weeks time. Sure, it's on the way from Boston. James DeGale vs Andre Dirrell is live on Sky Sports on Saturday May 23rd.